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Fewer Alabama Truck Crashes Expected With New Hours of Service Rules

Jun 18, 2013 - Truck Accidents, Tuscaloosa by

The number of Tuscaloosa truck accidents will hopefully be reduced with the implementation of new hours-of-service regulations, effective July 1, 2013 and handed down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
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Unfortunately, many trucking companies, including the American Trucking Association, have opposed the regulations, saying it will cost them millions of dollars more than what the FMCSA has estimated. Just to implement the program, companies say, will cost them $320 million.

The FMCSA, meanwhile, anticipates the industry will see a benefit of between $135 million and $300 million annually, due to a reduction in crashes, which result in loss of productivity, hefty insurance payouts and other expenses. The agency says the cost of implementation should only be about $200 per long-haul driver, with another $270 lost annually per driver in terms of productivity loss from fewer hours of drive time.

Collectively, that amount will no doubt be substantial. But we must consider the cost of what we lose by doing nothing.

The FMCSA’s stated mission with these new measures is reduction of fatigue-related truck crashes and long-term health issues for drivers. The agency says that driver fatigue is responsible for nearly 15 percent of large-truck crashes in the U.S.

So it may cost the trucking agencies a little more, but in the end, all motorists wind up safer.

Among some of the major changes being implemented:

  • Long-haul truck drivers are limited to a maximum of eight hours of continuous driving before they will be mandated to take a half-hour break. Driving hours will also be limited to a maximum of 11 hours total, assuming the driver has had 10 consecutive hours off-duty beforehand.
  • The number of hours a trucker can drive in a given work week has been reduced from 82 hours down to 70 hours.
  • Truckers who max out their weekly work hours are required to take at least two nights’ rest, from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. (Asking for two, four-hour naps in the stretch of a 70-hour work week is really not asking for much.) This is part of the provision that gives drivers the opportunity to restart their workweek by taking at least 34 hours off duty, consecutively. The re-start rule is only allowed once in a seven-day stretch.
  • Passenger-carrying commercial vehicles will have a 10-hour maximum driving limit, and that must follow 8 straight hours off-duty. These workers may not drive after having been on duty for more than 15 hours. So in other words, work conducted prior to getting behind the wheel would count toward that 15-hour provision.

The new rules are sweeping, and they are no doubt going to impact delivery times for all kinds of goods across the country. But we hope the end result will be dramatic and we’ll be seeing far fewer truckers driving with little sleep. Both drivers and carriers can face fines for violations, ranging from $1,000 to $11,000, just depending on the severity level of the infraction.

Additional Resources:

Summary of Hours of Service Regulations As of July 2013, Changes Compared to Current Rule, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association

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