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Will Hours-of-Service Updates Improve Trucking Safety?

The compliance date for the Hours of Service Final Rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) goes into effect on July 1, 2013. With new guidelines for commercial driving time and rest breaks, the final rule is poised to create safer roadways for both truckers and commuters.

Trucking Safety Then and Now

Before the final rule was announced by FMCSA on December 22, 2011, commercial truck drivers were allowed to work up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. As of the July 1 compliance date, the number of hours available per seven-day period will decrease from 82 to 70. Truckers will retain the current 11-hour workday allotment, but will not be able to drive after eight hours without first taking at least a 30-minute break. In addition, those who choose to maximize the 70-hour workweek will be required to sleep from the hours of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. for at least two out of the seven nights. The FMCSA announcement claims that these particular four hours are when the “24-hour body clock demands sleep the most.” Here’s a look at some of the changes:

New Rule Old Rule

Hours per week 70 82 Hours per day 11, with 30-min. break after every 8 hours 11 Sleep requirements 1 a.m.-5 a.m. at least 2 nights every week None. Additional changes can be found on the FMCSA’s Final Rule.

Looking at the Numbers

According to a statement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities among large truck occupants increased by 20 percent in 2011. The aim of the final rule is to reduce this number going forward, helping to eliminate fatigued truck drivers from our roadways and improve trucking safety for the benefit of all. Clifford Law Offices, a firm of Chicago truck accident attorneys, has represented victims in a number of truck accident cases. In 2004, the firm was responsible for obtaining a $38.3 million verdict in a tragic Illinois highway trucking collision. It was the largest transportation verdict in the country in 2004, according to the National Law Journal.