Summary of New Fed Laws Governing Commercial Truck Drivers Effective February 27, 2012: Making the Roads Safer For All of Us (If They Are Followed)

Summary of New Fed Laws Governing Commercial Truck Drivers Effective February 27, 2012: Making the Roads Safer For All of Us (If They Are Followed)

Approximately one month from today, on February 27, 2012, federal law will change regarding commercial trucks driven on American roads as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rule changes go into effect.  These are a part of the Hours of Service regulations that have been so hotly debated over the past few years.

We’ve posted about aspects of these new rules before along with the trucking industry’s response to the agency’s proposals; however, it’s important to know the extent of what these new laws are – especially when trucking companies are already voicing their concerns that these new regulations will burden those trying to logistically plan trucking routes.

Summary of the New FMCSA Truck Driver Rules Effective February 2012

Here is a summary of the new February 2012 rules that govern truck drivers driving commercial trucks (big rigs; semis; tractor trailers; etc.) as passed by FMCSA (others will become law later in the year):

1.  Restarts. Two rules work together to impose a new regulation involving 34-hour restarts.

  • 34 hour restarts can be used once a week
  • must have 1 AM to 5 AM home terminal time

2.  Rest Breaks. Now, a new rule requires that trucks cannot drive any longer than 8 hours without taking a 30 minute rest break.

3.  On-Duty Time.  If the truck driver is resting in a parked truck, then he or she can count this as rest time; it is no longer considered on-duty time even though they technically may be setting behind the wheel. It can extend the weekly limits but it cannot extend the 14 consecutive hour daily limit. There is no limit on how long the trucker can rest in a parked truck.

4.  In Attendance Time. This can be tallied as break time if the truck driver is not doing any other work tasks at the time.

5.  Daily HOS Violations. FMCSA considers that 3 hours of HOS violations as ‘egregious’ (i.e., going over the 11 hour per day limit by 3 or more hours) which will be reflected in higher fines, to the tune of $2,750 for the driver and $11,000 for the carrier.

Hours of Service regulations are designed to protect the truck driver and those with whom he shares the road from the ramifications of driving too far and too long without a break behind the wheel of a big commercial vehicle.  The tragedies of big rig semi trucks crashing with other vehicles on the road (which usually weigh so much less than that tractor trailer truck) are often horrific as fatalities are usually involved.

These new regulations are designed to save lives.  And they will.  If truck drivers and carriers follow them.

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