The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations in an effort to prevent serious truck accidents caused by driver fatigue.

By limiting the amount of consecutive days and hours that a driver is on duty, the hope is that truck drivers avoid drowsy driving. It is important that they maintain a healthy sleep cycle, to avoid the potentially dangerous effects that a cumulative lack of sleep can have on a driver who is behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound vehicle.

However, stakeholders have expressed the need for flexibility when it comes to certain aspects of the HOS regulations. The FMCSA has conveyed a willingness to explore making some changes, as long as safety is not compromised in any way.

The FMCSA is considering making the following changes to the HOS regulations:

  • Expanding the 100 air-mile “short haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours.
  • Extending the existing 14-hour, on-duty limitation by up to two hours, if a truck driver encounters adverse conditions.
  • Changing the mandatory 30-minute break after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Giving truck drivers the option to split up the mandatory 10-hour, off-duty rest break if the truck has sleeping quarters.
  • FMCSA Seeks Public Feedback
    FMCSA is also looking for feedback from the public, following the petitions filed by the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and TruckerNation.

    The OOIDA filed a petition that addressed the 14-hour, on-duty limitation, and the petition filed by TruckerNation brought up the 10-hour, off-duty requirement. Both organizations urged the FMCSA to reconsider the regulations, as the current rules require truck drivers to drive when they may be drowsy, during busy travel times, and in inclement weather when the road conditions are poor.

    According to the President of OOIDA, this is a sign that the FMCSA is listening to their concerns, and willing to make common-sense changes, based on conversations with members of the trucking industry.

    The American Trucking Industry also supports improvements to the HOS regulations, in order to ensure safe highways for all motorists, and to protect truck drivers from drowsy-driving-related accidents. The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) supported the FMCSA’s plan to reach out to the public.

    According to the FMCSA, the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has brought much-needed attention to the HOS regulations, and the impact they have on certain sectors of the trucking industry. Based on inspection data that the FMCSA reviewed, compliance with the ELD mandate is 99 percent.

    The FMCSA can access concrete data from the mandate to address these problems that are specific to the trucking industry.

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    Bryan J Chant, Esq.

    Licensed since 2013

    Member at firm LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A.

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