The Department of Transportation (DOT) recently changed the hours of service regulations to which truckers must comply. These regulations are meant to ensure that the truckers don’t drive too many hours or work too many non-driving hours before getting back behind the wheel.
Ultimately, this is one of the ways that the industry can combat trucker fatigue. Some recent guidance from the DOT is changing some of these rules, and there are mixed thoughts on what impacts this might have.
Long-haul truckers have a limit of 14 hours of driving per shift. Once they hit that time, they have to stop driving. The new regulations give them a bit of leeway with this time. If they’re driving in adverse conditions like snow, the time limit is extended by two hours. This is meant to give them more flexibility. However, opponents may wonder if it will make it more likely for them to suffer from fatigue.
The breaks these drivers are required to take are also changing. A trucker must take a 30-minute rest break after 8 hours of driving. In the past, they had to be off the clock for this. Now, they can take this break while they’re on the clock as long as they aren’t driving. This means they can get their break in while the truck is being loaded or unloaded by someone else.
Sleep breaks are another point that’s changed. Truckers must rest 10 hours between their 14-hour driving shifts. This used to have to be done all in one shift. Now, it can be broken up into an 8-hour/2-hour split or a 7-hour/3-hour split. This gives the trucker more leeway to get a shorter rest period during their driving hours if they need one.
While most motorists aren’t familiar with the hours of service regulations for truckers, they can become important if you’re involved in a crash with a semitruck. Your attorney can help you to tie this into your personal injury claim if it’s a factor.