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Fatigued Driving – New Rule Reducing Truck Driver Hours-of-Service (HOS) Requirements

December 30, 2011

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Large truck fatalities were up six (6) percent nationally according to data released by the United States Department of Transportation.  Just prior to the Holiday Season, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a new Final Rule reducing weekly Hours of Service (HOS) requirements.   According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the purpose of the new rule is to "prevent fatigue-related truck crashes and save lives."  The increase in truck related fatalities was one of several reasons for the new rule change.

As originally drafted, the proposed rule changes were to reduce the 11-hour daily driving limit to 10 hours.  While this daily limit reduction was not included in the final rule, the new HOS requirements will effectively reduce the maximum allowable hours a truck driver can work in one week.  The old rule’s 82 hours will now be reduced down to 70 hours, representing a 15% overall reduction in weekly HOS.  A 30-minute break after working eight (8) hours is also a new requirement.

Chronic fatigue results after working long daily and weekly hours on a continuing basis.  With chronic fatigue, truck drivers face chronic health conditions and the high risk of causing an accident.  Truck driver fitness remains a focus for both the truck industry and enforcement of new safety rules.  Improving driver health and ensuring that the driver receives adequate rest are both means of promoting safer highways.  The truck industry has plenty of time to adjust to the new rule because it does not go effect until July 1, 2013.  Truck companies and drivers will face stiff monetary penalties for compliance violations.

Authored by: Trial Attorney / Truck Attorney – Andrew R. Young, Esquire – Class A CDL License

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