Rest Period Regulation Rolled Back

speed yellow semi-truck on highwayDriver fatigue is a leading factor in large truck crashes, which is the reason regulations put into effect in 2013 cut truckers’ weekly hours to 70. The new government spending bill includes a provision that rolls back that restriction, now allowing drivers to drive up to 82 hours a week before needing a rest period. The provision also calls for a detailed study of the effect of the regulations on truck crashes. The measure only rolls back the new rules until next October.

The previous restriction required truckers to take two back-to-back rest periods in the early morning after every 70 hours spent driving. Under the restriction, truck drivers could work as many as 14 hours a day, including 11 hours of driving. If they averaged 70 hours in a week, they had to rest 34 hours, including two consecutive nights from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

This regulation created a safety concern, said Dave Osiecki, executive vice president of the American Trucking Association (ATA), because truck drivers and fleets were in morning traffic with commuters and school buses.

“Those hours are less safe statistically,” said Osiecki. “In an effort to reduce nighttime crashes, the government may be causing daytime crashes.”

No one knows yet whether the 2013 restriction actually caused the number of crashes to increase; the Department of Transportation (DOT) hasn’t compiled accident data for the past year. But Osiecki said truck crashes had been declining anyway before the rule took effect.

With the new restriction set at 82 hours a week, will we see a continued decline in crashes? The data would seem to indicate that most truckers don’t even drive 70 hours a week. A survey of 40,000 drivers’ logs—before the restriction went into place—showed an average of 52 hours driven per week, with only 2 percent having worked more than 61 hours, said Sean McNally, a spokesman for the ATA.

We will continue to watch for updates on the data and welcome your input. How will the new provision affect truckers? Will it make it more attractive for those considering a career in trucking?

TransForce is the nation’s leading specialty staffing firm devoted exclusively to the transportation industry. TransForce understands Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and knows how to recruit, screen and retain the best drivers. Safety is a shared commitment, and TransForce’s drivers have a low DOT-reportable accident rate.