On July 1, 2013, an announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) stated that new federal regulations had gone into effect that day, aimed at reducing driver fatigue and increasing safety. According to Ray LaHood, the U.S Transportation Secretary, “Safety is our highest priority. These rules make common sense, data-driven changes to reduce truck driver fatigue and improve safety for every traveler on our highways and roads.”

Though the new rule retains the current 14-hour work day and 11-hour daily driving limit, under the new hours-of-service rule:

  • The current maximum average work week will be reduced from the current 82 hours to 70 hours per week.
  • Truck drivers who have reached the limit may resume once they have rested for 34 consecutive hours. This 34 hour period must include two nights, spanning the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
  • During the first eight hours of any shift, truck drivers are required to take one, 30 minute break.

Egregious violations of the rule could mean serious penalties for companies and drivers. Passenger carriers and companies that allow drivers to violate the driving limit by over three hours may be fined $11,000 for each offense. For the same violation, drivers may have to pay civil penalties of up to $2,750 per offense.

According to Anne S. Ferro, Administrator for the FMCSA, “These fatigue-fighting rules for truck drivers were carefully crafted based on years of scientific research and unprecedented stakeholder outreach. The result is a fair and balanced approach that will result in an estimated $280 million in savings from fewer large truck crashes and $470 million in savings from improved driver health. Most importantly, it will save lives.”

While many truck drivers are against the new trucking regulations, claiming it will cost them money, the FMCSA claims that over 85 percent of truck drivers will not be affected. Furthermore, the FMCSA stated in its press release that the estimated outcome of the rule will be 19 lives saved, 560 injuries prevented, and 1,400 crashes avoided each year.