WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of
Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
announced that new federal regulations designed to improve safety
for the motoring public by reducing truck driver fatigue took full
effect July 1, 2013.
"Safety is our highest priority," said
then-U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "These rules make
common sense, are data-driven changes to reduce truck driver
fatigue, and improve safety for every traveler on our highways and
Trucking companies were provided 18
months to adopt the new hours-of-service rules for truck drivers.
First announced in December 2011 by the FMCSA, the rules limit the
average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours to ensure that all
truck operators have adequate rest. Only the most extreme schedules
will be impacted, and more than 85 percent of the truck driving
workforce will see no changes.
Working long daily and weekly hours on
a continuing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a high risk
of crashes and a number of serious chronic health conditions in
drivers. It is estimated that these new safety regulations will save
19 lives, and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries
"These fatigue-fighting rules for truck
drivers were carefully crafted based on years of scientific research
and unprecedented stakeholder outreach," said FMCSA Administrator
Anne S. Ferro. "The result is a fair and balanced approach that will
result in an estimated $280 million in savings from fewer large
truck crashes and $470 million in savings from improved driver
health. Most importantly, it will save lives."
FMCSA's new hours-of-service final
maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease
from the current maximum of 82 hours;
drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week to
resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two
nights when their body clock demands sleep the most - from 1-5 a.m.;
drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a
The final rule retains the current
11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day.
Companies and drivers that commit
egregious violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties
for each offense. Trucking companies and passenger carriers that
allow drivers to exceed driving limits by more than three hours
could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could
face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.