Some truck drivers work long hours, spending days and nights on the road. While some found this alarming in terms of the health of the truck drivers, the Department of Transportation was concerned these long hours were contributing to the number of trucking accidents caused by fatigued drivers.
Back in 2011 rules were crafted to reduce the number of driving hours for truck drivers. However, not liking the proposed restrictions, the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association tried to push the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration back on the rules. This did not happen and truck drivers must adhere to the new anti-fatigue rules.
Of those rules, the maximum average workweek for a truck driver can only be 70 hours. This is quite the cut from the 82 hours that were the maximum before the new rules went into place.
There were also changes to how a workweek is reset for a truck driver. It used to be that a truck driver could reset the workweek by taking off 34 consecutive hours. Now, a workweek can only be rest once a week and after a truck driver takes off two consecutive periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Additionally, drivers must also now take a 30 minute break after being on the road for eight hours.
The hope is these new rules will help reduce the number of accidents caused by truck driver fatigue. While difficult to predict how many deaths this may end up preventing, the DOT estimates the new driving laws will prevent 1,400 truck crashes and save 19 lives a year.