November 2013 - Truck Companies and Truck Drivers Adjust to New Regulations

Over the last four months, truck drivers and trucking companies have been adjusting to the new DOT hours of service safety regulations which went into effect on July 1, 2013. The Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration instituted the updated regulations in an attempt to reduce chronic fatigue, a high risk of crashes, and the number of serious health conditions of truck drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has estimated that the new regulations will prevent approximately 1,400 trucking accidents each year.
Over the last four months, truck drivers and trucking companies have been adjusting to the new DOT hours of service safety regulations which went into effect on July 1, 2013. The Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration instituted the updated regulations in an attempt to reduce chronic fatigue, a high risk of crashes, and the number of serious health conditions of truck drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has estimated that the new regulations will prevent approximately 1,400 trucking accidents each year.

Trucking accident lawyers in Missouri and other states will have to review and become familiar with the new regulations as they review their truck accident cases. The new rules do the following:

  • Reduce the average work week for most struck drivers to 70 hours;
  • Requires 34 hour restarts to include two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. and only allows the restarts to be used once per week;
  • Requires tractor-trailer drivers to take a 30 minute to rest break at some point during the first eight hours of a shift; and
  • Changes to "on-duty" time definition so that it does not include any time resting in a parked vehicle, with some exceptions;
Despite the changes made for the new rules, the current 11 hour rule and 14 hour rule remain unchanged. The new rules are found in 49 CFR Sections 395.2 and 395.3. While there are changes to the off-duty provision, it is important for the truck accident lawyer to recognize that while the time spent resting in a parked vehicle may count as off-duty time, it does not stop the clock for the 14 hour rule, unless a truck driver spends 10 consecutive hours on duty. The off-duty provisions are important, as many truck drivers do not properly log their on-duty time, especially as it relates to the 14 hour rule. With respect to the 34 hour restart rule, the break may be taken at any location but it must be logged based on the time standard of the drivers home terminals.

While truck drivers and trucking companies are attempting to work within the new regulations, it appears that there will be some effect on some drivers and carriers. For example, driver availability will likely be reduced for high output trucking companies because drivers will have to rest for two separate nights if they want to use the 34 hour restart rule. As a result, it is possible that trucking companies will have to use part-time drivers or add additional drivers. Additionally, long-haul drivers who spend many weeks on the road at this at a time will also be affected by the new rules. As truck accident lawyers, we are hopeful that the new regulations reduce serious accidents on the nation's highways, interstates and roadways.

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