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FMCSA and hours-of-service rules

On Behalf of | Feb 6, 2023 | Blog, Truck Accidents |

Semi-tractor trailer accidents in Ohio and around the country claim thousands of lives each year, and most of those who die in these crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. To prevent as many truck accidents as possible, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has strict rules in place to ensure that commercial vehicles are properly maintained and equipped with all required safety devices. The FMCSA also has hours-of-service rules that limit the amount of time that truck drivers can remain on the road before rest becomes mandatory.

Hours-of-service rules

Trucking companies and organizations that advocate on behalf of truck drivers have long claimed that the FMCSA’s hours-of-service rules are too strict. In June 2020, the federal safety agency responded to these calls by announcing some revisions to the rules. Truck drivers will now be able to spend up to 14 hours behind the wheel as long as they remain within 150 miles of their starting points, and both long and short-haul commercial vehicle drivers can now spend an additional two hours on the road in snow, heavy rain and other adverse weather conditions. Mandatory 30-minute breaks no longer have to be taken while truck drivers are actually on duty, and any time not spent behind the wheel is now considered a break.

Electronic monitoring

The hours-of-service rules may be a little more lenient, but they are also more likely to be enforced. This is because truck drivers are no longer permitted to keep track of their shifts in log books. Since 2016, their hours have been tracked electronically. That was when the FMCSA implemented a rule to prevent fatigue-related big rig accidents. The rule requires commercial vehicle operators to install Electronic Logging Devices in all tractor-trailers driven by truck drivers subject to hours-of-service rules.

Safer roads

The goal of FMCSA regulations like hours-of-service rules is improved road safety, but these revisions do not appear to be aligned with this objective. The logistics industry is a vital cog in the nation’s economy, but the safety of the public should always come before profits and expediency. Advocacy groups say these changes will make the roads more dangerous, time will tell us if they are right.