New hours-of-service rules issued by Federal Motor-Carrier Safety Administration

News AASHTO Journal August 31, 2005
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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a new hours-of-service rule limiting the number of hours certain categories of truck drivers can be on the road before they need to take a break. The rules, which go in effect October 1, primarily affect short-haul operators and longer-distance drivers who use in-cab sleeper berths.

The new rules do not change hours of service rules for drivers carrying commercial cargo whose work currently requires them to hold a commercial driver’s license, beyond curbing the ability of long-distance drivers who use in-cab sleeper berths to divide the block of time they spend in the berth.

Similar to the 2003 rule, the new rule “prohibits truckers from driving more than 11 hours in a row, working longer than 14 hours in a shift and driving more than 60 hours over a seven-day period or 70 hours over an eight-day period,” FMCSA stated.

Short-haul drivers—who typically operate within 150 miles of the place where they report to work and do not require commercial driver’s licenses—now must hold their driving hours to a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel after coming on-duty following 10 or more consecutive hours off-duty. Such drivers are not required to keep records-of-duty status, and they may not drive after the 14th hour after coming on duty five days a week, or after the 16th hour after coming on duty two days a week.

FMCSA said short-haul drivers—such as landscapers and delivery drivers—now must rest for at least 10 hours between shifts.

In an interview with Transport Topics, American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves said the new rule “confirms our research that the current hours-of-service rules have been measurably effective in improving safety on our nation’s highways, providing for the health of truck drivers and assuring the efficient transport of our nation’s goods.”

The new rule also requires truckers who use sleeper berths to rest for eight hour in a row and take another two consecutive hours off duty before resetting their daily driving schedule.

The new hours-of-service rules do not affect passenger motor coach operations, which are still covered by previously issued rules.

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