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Controversial aspects of the current hours-of-service rules

In recent blog posts, we’ve brought up the important issue of federal hours of service requirements, which apply to commercial truck companies and their drivers. This includes most vehicles used in the business of interstate commerce.  Here we’d like to provide readers a brief summary of the current hours of service rules, specifically the provisions which are new and which have generated some controversy.

Under the current provisions, truckers are limited to a maximum work week of 70 hours, which is 12 less hours than the previous rule. This, of course, has been a big source of contention for the trucking industry, which has complained of reduced productivity as a result of reduced work weeks. 

Another aspect of the rules is that drivers may restart their workweek by taking a 34-hour rest period. This rest period must include at least two nightly rest periods between one o’clock and five o’clock in the morning. This is a new aspect of the rule, which previously imposed no rules as to when truckers must be resting or sleeping.

Another aspect of the new rules is that truckers must take a 30-minute break in the first eight hours of their shift. This was not required in the old set of rules, and represents another way the rules came down stricter on truckers.

Although the trucking industry has not been completely happy about these changes in the hours of service rules, it is nevertheless the case that they are still bound by them. The purpose of the rules, of course, is to prevent the occurrence of trucking accidents. Truckers and trucking companies who fail to abide by these rules not only put other motorists at risk, but also open themselves up to civil liability. 

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Hours of Service,” Accessed July 22, 2014.

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