Driver Hours Cut 15% By New HOS Ruling

After many months of consultation and modifications to CSA 2010, FMCSA has released their final ruling on the maximum number of driver hours from 82 down to 70 in an effort to combat accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers.

After many months of consultation and modifications to CSA 2010, FMCSA has released their final ruling on the maximum number of driver hours from 82 down to 70 in an effort to combat accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers.

Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary, announced the final HOS ruling on December 22, 2011, basing it on the latest research in driver fatigue and replacing the existing FMCSA
hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements for commercial truck drivers.

Deadly Trucking Accidents

“Trucking is a difficult job, and a big rig can be deadly when a driver is tired and overworked,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This final rule will help prevent fatigue-related

truck crashes and save lives. Truck drivers deserve a work environment that allows them to perform their jobs safely.”

Highlights of new HOS ruling

The changes to Hours of Service are aimed at ensuring drivers are not overworked and fatigued, which can lead to fatal accidents.

FMCSA’s new HOS final rule reduces the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work in a week by 12 hours. Under the old rule, truck drivers could work on average up to 82 hours within a seven-day period while the new HOS final rule limits a driver’s work week to 70 hours.

The 34-hour restart provision allows drivers to restart their working week clock after a minimum 34 consecutive hours off-duty. Part of this provision is that drivers need to have two nights off duty between 1am and 5am, since this is when the 24-hour body clock demands sleep the most.

Truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they need rest during the eight-hour window.

The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit. FMCSA will continue to conduct data analysis and research to further examine any risks associated with the 11 hours of driving time.

This final HOS ruling, which comes into effect July 1, 2013, is doesn’t represent a big shift from the preliminary rulings, aimed at keeping both drivers and other road users safe from overworked and fatigued truck drivers.

What counts as off-duty time?

According to the DOT off-duty time is when you, as a driver, are relieved of all duty and responsibility for performing work. You must be free to pursue activities of your own choosing and be able to leave the place where your vehicle is parked.

Penalties for HOS infringements

Considering that fleets will have ample time to comply with the final HOS rulings, it’s not surprising that the DOT will be issuing hefty fines for violations. Companies and drivers that commit significant violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense. Trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by 3 or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.

Avoid fines, downtime with EOBR devices

Commercial truck drivers and companies must comply with the HOS final rule by July 1, 2013. It makes sense to plan ahead and setup processes now to make sure your fleet is compliant with the new HOS rules. Many fleets are switching to telematics software that uses EOBR devices that automatically record on-duty and off-duty time so drivers can easily see how much time they have left to legally keep driving, as well as speeding up any roadside checkpoints setup by the FMCSA to check driver HOS.

More questions? Check the FMCSA website for answers to all your questions: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/topics/hos-final/qanda.aspx