Relaxed HOS Regulations for Truckers Raises Concerns of USDOT

Last month, Congress officially passed budget legislation that contained provisions to effectively reverse some federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for truckers that had gone into effect in 2013. Specifically, these recent changes to HOS regulations for truckers went into effect with the approval of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, enacted on December 16, 2014.

With these changes:

  • Some of the provisions of the Final Rule for HOS regulations for truckers have been negated.
  • Truck drivers are now, once again, allowed to work 82 hours in a given week (as enforcement of the 34-hour restart period has been suspended).

Opposition to Changes in HOS Regulations for Truckers 

litigation financing Relaxed HOS Regulations for Truckers Raises Concerns of USDOT

Congress’ recent approval of relaxed HOS regulations for truckers has been met with much criticism from federal transportation safety officials. Here’s why.

Congress’ move to alter federal HOS regulations for truckers has culled much criticism from federal safety regulators, as well as grassroots public safety organizations.

Among the most prominent parties opposing this change has been U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who has been vehemently opposed to any changes that would relax requirements that truckers get at least two overnight rest periods between their driving “work weeks.”

In fact, as Foxx noted in a letter sent to the senior members of Congress in early December:

The evidence clearly shows that truck drivers are better rested and more alert after two nights of sleep than one night, and that unending 80-hour work weeks lead to driver fatigue and compromise highway safety.

ATA Backs Changes to HOS Regulations for Truckers

Supporting Congress’ changes to federal HOS regulations for truckers is the American Trucking Association (ATA), among others. In fact, as Sean McNally, a spokesperson for the ATA, has explained:

  • The recent changes to federal HOS regulations for truckers would let commercial drivers use the 34-hour rest period more than one time per week.
  • The vast majority of drivers surveyed by the ATA showed that, generally, truckers drove for an average of 52 hours per week, with only about 2 percent of surveyed truckers admitting to driving 61+ hours weekly.

Will New HOS Regulations for Truckers Impact Public Safety?

While regulators, the trucking industry and others continue to weigh in on the recent changes to HOS regulations for truckers, it remains to be seen if and how these changes may:

  • Impact truck driver fatigue
  • Effect the incidence of truck accidents in the U.S. in 2015.

As more reports and findings regarding trucker fatigue, changes to HOS regulations for truckers and the incidence of truck accidents in the U.S. become available, we will report them to you here.

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