U.S. Department of Transportation officials this week released
details of a plan to educate truck drivers about and to enforce
a new hours-of-service rule. Starting Jan. 4, when the rule
is implemented, state and federal officials expect to spend
the first 60 days waging an aggressive education campaign
and enforcing egregious violations.
The education and enforcement plans have been designed to
ensure long-term compliance and understanding of the safety
rule. The new hours-of-service rule represents the first major
rewrite of the hours-of-service regulations in more than 60
years. It synchronizes the commercial drivers work and
rest schedule better with the bodys circadian rhythm
to reduce fatigue and save lives.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will
ask states to write warnings instead of citations for all
but flagrant violations. State officials are also being encouraged
to use every stop in the first 60 days as an opportunity to
educate drivers about the new rules. In addition, federal
inspectors will coordinate education and enforcement efforts
from regional offices across the country.
The new safety rule gives us the means to save hundreds
of lives, protect billions in commerce and safeguard our roads
and highways for years to come, said U.S. Secretary
of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta. We must do whatever
we can to make certain everyone is aware and in full compliance
as soon as possible.
It is estimated that the new hours-of-service rule will save
75 lives, prevent 1,326 fatigue-related injuries, and prevent
6,900 property damage-only crashes annually, resulting in
a cost savings to the American economy of $628 million a year.
This new rule combines the best scientific research
and real-world analysis to prevent driver fatigue, said
FMCSA Administrator Annette M. Sandberg. The measure
of a rule is how well it works. That is why we are taking
every step to make sure drivers know about the changes and
The new regulations provide commercial truck drivers a work
and rest schedule that is more in line with a persons
circadian rhythm and thus is expected to significantly reduce
driver fatigue. For example, the new rules allow long haul
drivers to drive 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
Similarly, truckers may not drive after being on duty for
60 hours in a seven-consecutive-day period or 70 hours in
an eight-consecutive-day period. This on-duty cycle may be
restarted only after a driver takes a weekend
off, that is, at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.
The current rules allow 10 hours of driving within a 15-hour,
on-duty period and requires only eight hours of off-duty time.
Detailed information about the rule is at www.fmcsa.dot.gov,
and FMCSA has staffed a toll-free telephone line around the
clock to answer drivers questions.