While today’s trucking industry is highly regulated, the laws haven’t always been as favorable as truckers would like.
However, the industry recently saw an overhaul in many of its laws, giving drivers more protection than ever before. While COVID-19 was a major contributor to many changes, it was also high time that drivers were better protected.
The new laws apply to work hours, journey, and break times and were finalized in May after more than 8,000 public comments from stakeholders were received. The driving force behind the changes was an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This Administration body has worked tirelessly for safer, more flexible working conditions.
The updated regulations include limitations and adjustments on the following:
- Driving Hours
Regulations now state that truck drivers are not to drive for more than 11 hours per day, with a maximum of 14 working hours. The rule also applies to short-haul drivers. This came after backlash from electronic-logging devices that were introduced to ensure the safety of drivers. However, these devices had the opposite effect and saw truck drivers being more reckless in an attempt to beat the clock to their destinations.
- Off-Duty Rest
Driving for extended periods can lead to driver fatigue. This reduces alertness on the road and is known to lead to an increase in accidents. Truck drivers are now only allowed to begin their next journey after taking a minimum of 10 consecutive hours of off-duty rest time.
This is to help prevent driver fatigue and restlessness, particularly on journeys home. All truck drivers are protected by this new rule and have welcomed it. It means that they can rest properly before embarking on their next long drive.
- Extended Driving Window
In the event of encountering adverse conditions such as rain or snow, truck drivers are now allowed to extend their driving windows by up to two hours. This is another rule put in place to prevent drivers from speeding or driving recklessly to get to their destinations on time. It also allows for more flexibility, letting drivers decide whether or not they wish to stop or pull over if they deem the weather conditions unsafe to continue their journey.
- Rest Periods
As per the updated regulations, truck drivers are entitled to a 30-minute rest period per eight consecutive driving hours. Previously, they were forced to take their rest period within these eight hours. However, many of them felt that this was disruptive and more counter-productive than beneficial as it broke their focus.
These rule changes are expected to save the US economy and American consumers a fair bit each year. It is estimated that approximately USD 274 million will be saved collectively due to the introduction of these rules. Larry Minor, the Associate Administrator for policy for the FMCSA, has said that the largest impact on the trucking industry, regarding the huge savings, is the shift in the 30-minute break requirement. The bulk of the $274 million savings comes from truck drivers’ added flexibility not having to be completely off duty when taking their break.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of long-haul trucking companies and drivers has been highlighted. They play an essential role in the US economy as a whole, and specifically within the country’s public health infrastructure.
As states begin to reopen and resume normal practices, truck deliveries are likely to increase significantly. With these rules in place, FMCSA hopes to afford truck drivers the flexibility they have been requesting over the past few months to increase safety measures as necessary.
This blog was reprinted with permission.
Author Bio: Lorie is a full time writer and editor with a background in logistics management and freight forwarding, covering a variety of topics and news within the industry.