Throughout 2014, members of Congress battled it out over proposed changes to trucking safety regulations. These regulations pertained most specifically to the federal hours of service rules. These rules place limitations on how often truck drivers can work without taking a break. They were designed to reduce driver fatigue, a proven risk factor for trucking accidents. In December, revisions to these regulations were passed. The result is big changes to the hours of safety rules that could spell higher risk of accidents for motorists in 2015.
Four Changes to Current Hours of Service Rules
While actions taken by Congress can often be difficult to decipher, the main takeaway from the changes coming in 2015 is that truck drivers will now face more lax limitations with regard to the hours they are permitted to work without resting. Many safety proponents argue that these changes make the roads far more dangerous for other motorists. Changes coming in 2015 include the following:
- The current requirement that truck drivers take breaks between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. on consecutive nights in any 34-hour period before they can work again is eliminated.
- A limit on how many times truckers can declare the start of a new workday was suspended. Previously, drivers could only “restart” once every seven days.
- Truck drivers are still limited to working 70-hour workweeks; however, under the new regulations, a segment of drivers can actually work up to 82 hours per week. Drivers are no longer required to be off duty for 48 hours between work weeks.
- Federal regulators are now required to study the safety effect of this important “restart” provision. Specifically, they must look at the effects while taking into account the impact of more daytime driving and less driving at night. Industry insiders argue that the current restrictions result in more drivers operating during the day, increasing the risk of an accident since there is more traffic on the roads.
With these changes rapidly approaching, it is important for motorists to be even more alert when sharing the roads with large trucks. We encourage you to help us spread the word—share a link to this article with your friends and loved ones on Twitter and Facebook!