Truck drivers operate their massive vehicles under strict federal regulations that focus on driving safety while truckers work long hours and try to avoid extreme fatigue. Industry rules dictate how long truckers can be continuously behind the wheel without a break. The regulations include rules for off-road breaks as well as sleep requirements.
The trucking industry is obligated to take the issue of driver fatigue very seriously because they are responsible for employee safety and cargo transport. At the same time, the industry is constantly looking for ways to run more efficiently and safely.
With that dual focus in mind, industry leaders have proposed several changes to the hours of service rules; these rules are meant to keep truck drivers focused and alert as they traverse highways and byways throughout the country.
The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has put forth the following changes to better control traffic flow and cargo schedules.
The current sleep requirement maintains that drivers must remain off road for a period of ten hours to allow for truckers to acquire adequate sleep. New proposals suggest allowing drivers to split the 10-hour requirement into two segments.
Driving Clock Rules
Suggestions also include the option to stop the 14-hour consecutive driving rule, which would allow truckers to be more focused and have adequate sleep.
Air-Mile Radius Limits
Another change involves an increase in the short-haul air-mile radius from 100 to 150 miles.
Truckers are not allowed to drive for more than eight hours straight without an off-duty break. A proposed alteration to the rule would allow truckers to use on-duty, non-driving time to account for their required break.
Trucking industry representatives say the proposed changes will save millions of dollars and provide more efficient transportation of consumer goods that will positively affect many aspects of the economy. Most notably, it will reduce the costs of goods to consumers.
Driver fatigue is a known problem in the trucking industry. The regulations that address the issue can be controversial. Highway safety is a major concern. Advocates for improved trucking safety measures point to reports that show truck accidents are on the rise and that driver fatigue is underreported.
FMCSA must weigh the safety issues presented by truck driver fatigue while thoughtfully addressing the economic concerns of keeping the trucking economy moving along. Any changes to the regulations for the trucking industry are subject to approval by the FMCSA and the Office of Management and Budget.
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