In April of this year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted sessions with trucking industry experts to discuss hours-of-service (HOS) rules for commercial truck drivers. The trucking industry was seeking more flexibility in the rules, which currently restrict how many hours truck drivers can drive before taking rest stops. The American Trucking Association has said that the HOS rules work in preventing Florida car accidents involving trucks and nationwide truck accidents, but the industry wants more flexibility.
Under current rules, truck drivers are to rest for eight hours out of their ten hour rest period in their truck cab. This allows drivers to rest for eight hours in their cab and drive for six hours under the current 14 hour limit for driving. Despite concerns about safety, in 2004 and 2007 courts upheld decisions which allow drivers to drive many hours consecutively. Decisions and industry practices have also reduced the amount of time that drivers have to rest.
In October 2010, the new proposals made by the trucking industry to reduce rest hours even more were rejected by the Obama administration. The decision came after heavy lobbying from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Public Citizen, the Truck Safety Coalition, and the Teamsters Union.
Truck drivers are also opposed to the new suggestions and proposals, noting that such regulations make Florida pedestrian accidents and truck accidents more likely. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has asked federal regulators to reject proposals which would increase the driving limit to 11 hours and would allow drivers to be on the road again for a new week after only 34 hours of rest.
It’s not just a quality of work issue. It’s a safety issue. Fatigued drivers are simply more dangerous drivers. Experts have proven that fatigued driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving and note that HOS rules should be as strict as Florida drunk driving laws and regulations. Tired commercial truck drivers are driving tens of thousands of pounds of metal and sometimes hazardous materials. When tired, these drivers are more likely to be in traffic accidents. Ensuring that commercial truck drivers get adequate rest is an important part of keeping Florida streets safe.