Federal hours of service (HOS) regulations are in place to help promote the safety of commercial truck drivers as well as everyone who shares the road with them. They mandate things like how long a driver can be behind the wheel without a break.
This month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), published a final rule that updates existing HOS regulations. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said that the updated regulations will provide “greater flexibility” for truck drivers.
The four primary changes are the following:
- Drivers may take their mandatory 30-minute break after driving for 8 hours by switching to “on-duty, not driving” status rather than by moving to “off-duty” status.
- Drivers can split their required off-duty time of 10 hours in two separate off-duty periods of 7 hours and 3 hours or 8 hours and 2 hours.
- The maximum number of hours a trucker can drive in adverse conditions is extended by 2 hours.
- The “short-haul” exception that allows some drivers to stay on duty for 12 hours is extended to 14 hours, and the exception is now applied to drivers traveling the equivalent of 150 air miles instead of 100.
The new rule is scheduled to be implemented 120 days after it was published, which means that commercial truck drivers will be operating under these relaxed rules in the fall. Since drowsy driving by commercial truck drivers is already one of the leading causes of accidents involving trucks, it’s only reasonable to be concerned about how these changes will impact their safety as well as that of all motorists.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash caused by a truck driver, you’re likely looking at significant medical bills and possibly long-term therapy, rehabilitation and care. By holding the appropriate parties legally and financially accountable, you can get the compensation you need and deserve.