The federal government regulates how long a truck driver can be on the road before taking certain mandatory rest breaks. Even so, truck driver fatigue remains an issue and a danger for everyone on the roads. Now, the government may relax the hours of service rules, which could potentially worsen an already dangerous situation.
What exactly does the government intend to do? How will it affect you? Others are already asking these questions.
What would change?
Right now, drivers can only be on the road for 11 out of 14 hours, unless they encounter adverse driving conditions in which case they can drive for up to 13 hours. Truck drivers must then wait at least 10 hours before getting back to work. All truck drivers must also electronically log their hours in service. Below are the proposed changes:
- Short-haul drivers who remain within 150 miles of their home base and work no more than 14 hours would fall under the electronic log exemption. The current rule only allows the exemption for those within 100 miles with no longer than a 12-hour workday.
- The new rules would add another two hours to the 14-hour window in the event of adverse driving conditions, which expands the window to a total of 16 hours. This is meant to encourage drivers to slow down or pull over when the road conditions warrant it, but it may also increase fatigue because drivers are on the road longer.
- Drivers may be able to expand their work window up to 17 hours by taking a 30-minute to three-hour break, which stops the clock.
Considering how tired you may feel after just an 8-hour workday, you can imagine how tiring working up to 17 hours would be. Anyone who has ever driven all day knows that driving can tire you out and make the day feel quite long. Driving a passenger vehicle for this long is dangerous enough, but when you drive a vehicle weighing up to 80,000 pounds, the danger goes up fast.
Encountering a truck driver who feels fatigued after so many hours behind the wheel could prove dangerous. If you end up in an accident with a truck driven by a sleep deprived truck driver, the experience could change your life forever, and that’s the case with the current rules. Making these proposed changes could very well put you in even more danger from that truck around you on the road.