FMSCA Proposes Changes to Trucking HOS Rules

Semis are a part of America's driving landscape. They allow companies to economically transport a large amount of goods in a relatively short amount of time. Due to their size, however, trucks pose a danger to other drivers on the road, should an accident occur. So it is of the utmost importance that steps are taken to ensure the safety of all on the road.

In response to safety concerns, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has released a proposed set of Hours-of-Service (HOS) rule changes for the trucking industry.

Among the changes proposed:

  • Mandatory one hour rest break during the driving window
  • Limiting to no more than seven hours of consecutive hours of driving without a break
  • A driver must take a 30 minute break prior to driving seven consecutive hours
  • A driver must take a 34-hour break to reset weekly on-duty limits, this has to include two nighttime periods (considered midnight to 6 a.m.)
  • Reduce maximum on-duty driving window to 13 hours
  • Driver's day ends at the end of the 14-hour on-duty time, no work can be completed post on-duty time

Criticism of the Proposed Rules

The American Trucking Association (ATA) is critical of the FMCSA's proposed rules, citing safety concerns of its own.

The ATA states that the decreased allowable driving time will create safety concerns on the road. First, the ATA notes that the added time constraints will lead to more aggressive driving in order to complete the job. Second, losing the hour will cause trucking companies to put additional drivers on the road in order to get jobs done. However, many of these additional drivers will have much less experience, creating safety issues for other drivers on the road.

Bill Graves, ATA CEO, stated that the proposed HOS rules reducing drive time by one hour and a significant adjustment to the restart time "will be enormously expensive for trucking and the economy." Graves noted the FMSCA estimate of $2.2 billion in additional costs.

Further, Graves notes that U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) statistics show that fatal accidents are down 33 percent since 2003. Graves suggests, in light of the trucking industry's safety record, that the proposed changes have "everything to do with politics and little or nothing to do with highway safety or driver health."

If you have been involved in a truck accident, contact a personal injury attorney right away. It is important to remember that trucking accidents are complicated, so speak with an experienced attorney.