DOT to relax trucker drive-time regulations
The Department of Transportation is poised to loosen federal regulations that govern how many hours at a time truck drivers can legally stay behind the wheel.
The current hours of service regulations limit driving to 11 hours in a 14 hour on-duty period, followed by at least 10 hours of rest off-duty before a new shift can begin. Additionally, regulations require that drivers take a 30-minute break before hitting the 8-hour mark. Violating these rules can come at a steep cost, even putting drivers “out of service” for a day or more. When you’re paid by the mile, that time can make a big difference.
To enforce these rules, the previous administration mandated the use of electronic logging devices or ELDs. While paper log books could be easily falsified (something we often found in truck accident investigations), it’s harder to fool an ELD, which is hooked up to the truck’s engine.
While many in the trucking industry are in favor of more flexible rest rules, highway safety advocates are strongly opposed. Crashes involving large trucks have been on the rise, and driver fatigue has been identified as one of the most concerning causes of accidents. Drowsy driving plagues not only truckers, but also train engineers and members of the driving public. However, long-haul truck drivers are said to be especially prone, given their excessively long work hours, and predisposition for sleep disorders like sleep apnea linked to their lifestyle.
The proposed changes to the current regulations have not yet been released.
Any proposed changes to trucker rest rules must be based on safety first and foremost. Many safety advocates say that the hours of service limits are too liberal as it is, given the prevalence of drowsy driving accidents. All the while, demand for speedy ground shipping has soared and there aren’t enough drivers to meet this need. Driverless trucks, currently in testing, may solve some of these problems, but that is still years or decades away.
If you or someone you love have been hurt in a crash involving a large truck, we are here to help.
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