The Department of Transportation is considering to ease up on the current HOS rules for the amount of hours drivers are allowed to drive. The regulation currently limits long-haul truck drivers 11 hours of driving within a 14 hour on-duty time period, accompanied by 10 consecutive hours off duty. Ever since the regulations were put into place early last year, the trucking industry has been fighting to have the HOS revised.
In a report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 4,657 big rigs were involved in fatal crashes in 2017, which is a 10% increase from the previous year. However, only 60 of the divers in these fatal crashes were identified as fatigued. Which instigates the hypothesis that if the HOS regulations were to loosen up, could this result in an even larger spike in driver fatigue related crashes? According to the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Cathy Chase, who stated that the proposed flexibility on the HOS regulation is, “a code word for deregulation”, and “the hours of service requirements, which permit truckers to drive up to 11 hours each day, are already exceedingly liberal in our estimation.”
The HOS regulations were established in 1938, by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), which no longer exists as of 1996. However, the HOS were originally as follows: drivers limited to 12 hours of work within a 15-hour period, and work was defined as unloading, driving, handling freight, preparing reports, preparing vehicles for service, or performing any other duties related to the transportation of passengers or property. In conclusion, the maximum hours allowed to drive was 60 hours over 7 days for non-daily drivers and 70 hours over 8 days for daily drivers.
Currently, the proposed revision is being reviewed by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) which is the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States. In a statement from the FMCSA to AP at the OMB, they’re reviewing the proposed changes that have yet to be made public.