Revised HOS rule issued for truckers
Aug 22, 2005 9:10 AM, from staff and wire reports
The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a new hours-of-service (HOS) rule that spells out the length of time commercial drivers can operate trucks before they are required to take a break.
This rule replaces HOS regulations that were last updated in 2003. Parts of the rule, including the maximum driving time and minimum rest limits, remain the same. However, the rule includes changes affecting short-haul operators and longer-distance drivers who use in-cab sleeper-berths to rest.
“The research shows that this new rule will improve driver health and safety and the safety of our roadways,” said FMCSA Administrator Annette M Sandberg. “Ensuring drivers obtain necessary rest and restorative sleep will save lives.”
As in the 2003 regulations, the new rule prohibits truckers from driving more than 11 hours in a row, working longer than 14 hours in a shift, and driving more than 60 hours over a seven-day period or 70 hours over an eight-day period, Sandberg said. The rule also requires truckers to rest for at least 10 hours between shifts and provides a 34-hour period to recover from cumulative fatigue.
FMCSA said it tasked driver health and safety experts to review more than 1,000 health- and fatigue-related articles and studies and considered thousands of comments received from drivers, truck companies, safety advocates. and researchers before settling on the new safety provisions. The agency concluded the new rule will keep drivers healthy and reduce the 5.5% of fatal truck crashes caused by driver fatigue.
The most important change under the new rule now allows short-haul operators not required to hold a commercial drivers license, like landscape crews and delivery drivers who work within a 150-mile radius of their starting point, to extend their work day twice a week. They also will no longer have to maintain logbooks. The change was prompted by safety data that show short-haul drivers make up more than half the commercial fleet yet are involved in less than 7% of the nation’s fatigue-related fatal truck crashes, Sandberg said.
Another change in the new rule requires truckers who use sleeper-berths to rest for eight hours in a row, and take another two consecutive hours off duty before resetting their daily driving schedule. Studies show that drivers are less likely to be fatigued if they take a single eight-hour block of rest than if they break their rest into smaller periods of time as they were allowed under the previous rule.
As in 2003, the new rule applies only to commercial truck drivers, and not to passenger motor coach operators. Motor coach drivers are still covered by the HOS rules in effect before 2003.
The new rule will go into effect Oct 1, 2005. For more information or to review the HOS rule, go to www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
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