Job Safety

February 27, 2012

Trucking Tired

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has developed and implemented hours of service (HOS) regulations to limit when and for how long commercial drivers are allowed to drive. With the goal of reducing injuries and fatalities caused by big rig crashes, the regulations are designed to force drivers to take rest breaks. Commercial truck drivers have, historically, been limited to driving 10 hours within a 24-hour period. However, in 2003 the HOS rule increased allowable driving hours to 11. While the FMCSA recently considered reducing the number of driving hours back to 10 per day, it ultimately left the 11-hour HOS rule unchanged. The final HOS rule does require more breaks for drivers. A driver must take a 30-minute break after driving eight hours. The FMCSA noted that the risk of accidents was substantially reduced following rest breaks. Another change was to the restart time, which now must include two overnight (1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.) periods during the 34 consecutive hour break. The restart provision is meant to provide two quality nights of sleep for night-time drivers before they start a new workweek.

But what is the drivers condition at the start of a shift? Even if he/she follows the new rules he could easily be in trouble in a four or five hours if he started out impaired from lack of sleep or from the flu. An iPhone in his shirt pocket could be running our Alertometer app and he can send in a report on his condition at the start of a shift or during a break. A perfect solution it is not, but it makes more sense than an endless series of complicated shift rules that cannot be enforced.