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WASHINGTON D.C. – On December 29, 2010 the Federal Motor Carrier Safey Administration (FMCSA) proposed a rule change for hours of service (HOS) for drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The new rule is intended to “provide flexibility for drivers to take breaks when needed and would reduce safety and health risks associated with long hours.”

The new rule for hours of service for truck drivers will make seven changes to the existing rule:

  1. Limit the number of hours a trucker drives to 10 or 11 hours after a period of no less than 10 (consecutive) hours off duty. The agency supports the current rule of a limit of 10 hours driving time.
  2. Limit the standard “driving window” to 14 hours, but allow for an extension to 16 hours two times per week.
  3. Limit the actual duty time within the driving window to no more than 13 hours – thus giving drivers a 1 hour break in the 14 hour driving window.
  4. Permit truckers to drive only when a maximum of 7 hours has elapsed since their last sleeper-berth period or off-duty period of a minimum 30 minutes.
  5. Retain the 34-hour restart but only with the following provisos: a.) There must be two periods between midnight and 6 a.m. included in the restart. b.) The restart could commence only after a minimum of 7 days (168 hours) since the beginning of the last restart – effectively allowing the restart to be used only once per week.
  6. The definition of “on duty” would be changed to allow some time spent resting in the truck to be logged as being off duty.
  7. Change the “oilfield operations exception” by clarification of the language on waiting time – clarifying that waiting time would not be included in the calculation of the driving window.

Federal HOS rules regulate the driving hours for commercial vehicles. The regulations were made to prevent truck accidents and fatalities by mandating the number of hours a trucker can be on-duty and by establishing required rest periods for drivers.

Truckers who are found guilty of violating of the proposed rule can be liable for up to $2,750 in civil penalties for each offense. If a trucking company is gound guilty of allowing a driver to violate the driving limits established by the proposal, then it could face fines of up to $11,000 for each offense.


Published by Houston truck accident lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP

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