Changes in the Hours of Service Rules for Truckers Are Considered
The hours of service regulations for truckers are meant to give drivers breaks and to protect other motorists on the road. However, federal regulators are considering changes in the hours of service rules following lobbying from the trucking industry. We are concerned truck drivers will be permitted to drive for a longer stretch.
A report in The Packer noted the Trump administration is looking at relaxing the hours of service following complaints from the trucking industry about shipping delays and increases in costs associated with new electronic device logging rules.
The electronic device mandate started on April 1. The ELD devices are meant to create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it quicker to accurately manage, track, and share records of duty status data. The ELD devices synchronize with a truck’s engine to automatically record its driving time. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says the devices allow more accurate hours of service recording.
Now the FMCSA says the introduction of the devices has prompted possible revisions of some hours of service rules. It says in a notice:
“The introduction of electronic logging devices and their ability to accurately record compliance with hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for drivers of commercial motor vehicles have prompted numerous requests from Congress and the public for (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) to consider revising certain HOS provisions.”
Last month, the FMCSA issued its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The agency is seeking public comment on four proposed changes to the hours of service rules namely:
- The 30-minute rest break provision
- The short-haul hours of service limit;
- The hours of service exception for adverse driving conditions;
- The split-sleeper berth rule to allow drivers to split their required time in the sleeper berth.
The agency is also seeking public comments on petitions for rulemaking from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and TruckerNation.org.
OOIDA wants the agency to change the hours of service rules to allow drivers to take a rest break every 14-hour duty period for up to three consecutive hours when a driver is off-duty. OOIDA wants the agency to end the 30-minute rest break requirement.
What Could Changes in Hours of Service Rules Mean?
Federal regulators are considering expanding the current 100-mile “short-haul” exemption to 14 hours on duty. At present, short-haul drivers can only be on duty for 12 hours. The change would be consistent with rules for long-haul truck drivers.
The FMSCA is looking at extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by another two hours if a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
What Could Changes to the Hours of Service Rules Mean for Other Drivers?
We are alarmed by the prospect of truckers spending even longer on the roads. Tired truck drivers are a major cause of crashes in Virginia and North Carolina.
Driver fatigue affects all of us. However, it’s a particular problem in the trucking industry where drivers spend long hours on the highway.
We often see truck accidents occurring early in the morning when truckers have been driving through the night. Research suggests fatigue is a factor in up to 30 percent of crashes. In the trucking industry, a quarter of all big rig crashes are linked to fatigue.
Earlier this year, we wrote about how the Trump administration is rolling back numerous safety regulations on the roads and the railroads.
In 2015, a tractor-trailer plowed into cars in a construction zone on I-75 in Chattanooga, Tennessee with the loss of six lives. The tragedy led to proposals to restrict speeds on trucks.
A rule would have required each new vehicle to have a device on board that prevented it going above a pre-set speed and to be equipped with a means of reading the truck’s current speed setting along with two former speed settings by means of an onboard diagnostic connection. Carriers would have been required to maintain the speed-limiting devices for the life of their trucks.
About six months into the life of the Trump administration, the rule disappeared from the agendas for both the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, out Virginia trucking accident injury team is concerned about changes in the hours of service rules for truckers and amendments to other rules that will make our highways more dangerous. Trucks are likely to become an even greater menace. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a big rig wreck, please call us today at (757) 333-3333.