New hours-of-service rules were written for professional trucking companies by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and those new rules went into effect this year. The new rules make many important changes, but one of the most fundamental shifts is that drivers are now allowed to drive just 60 hours over seven days and 70 hours over eight days. After this time, the driver has to take a rest break of 34 consecutive hours, including two periods between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
Truck accident attorneys in West Palm Beach know that the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has been against this rule change from the beginning, as have many professional trucking associations. The rules were even challenged in court, but the FMCSA largely prevailed, with the court upholding the bulk of the new hours-of-service rules. Now, the OOIDA has conducted a survey of its members, which purports to show that the new rules are causing more fatigue and stress and reducing the income of truckers.
Survey Shows Truckers Unhappy with New Rules
According to Landline Magazine, the OOIDA Foundation conducted a survey of its members this October, around three months after the new hours-of-service rules went into effect. According to the survey:
- Around 53 percent of truck drivers responding said that the regulations neither decreased nor increased their levels of fatigue while driving.
- A total of 36 percent of survey respondents said that the new rules actually made them feel more tired than they did before the change went into effect.
- One of the rules, a requirements that drivers take a 30-minute break within the first eight hours of driving, received poor feedback as most OOIDA members said that they didn’t use this time to rest but instead just sat in their trucks and waited for the break to end.
- Truckers also reported that they had difficulty finding a place to take their 30 minute break due to the lack of safe available parking for large trucks. This meant that the 30-minute break often turned into a longer period of time when productive driving was impossible, thus increasing the trucker’s work week and adding a lot of stress to their daily routines.
- Some respondents to the survey said that they ended up driving faster because of the 30-minute break requirement in order to make up for the time that they had lost.
- A total of 79 percent of truckers responding to the survey said that the 34-hour rest period requirement significantly impacted them, with overnight operators criticizing the regulation the most. Drivers said that this requirement actually forced them to take a longer period of time off because of the requirement that two of the periods fall between 1:00 and 5:00 a.m. While drivers said this made them less productive, they did not report any significant benefits in reducing fatigue due to the rules.
This data suggests that many truckers don’t believe they are benefiting from new hours-of-service rules. However, it is important to note that the OOIDA has been a vocal opponent of the rule change for a long time, so the results of the survey may not provide an accurate picture of whether the stricter hours-of-service rules are actually helping to reduce drowsy driving truck crashes.