The rest periods before professional truck drivers can start a new workweek, known as restarts, are under review by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
A new rule, scheduled to go into effect in July 2013, mandates a 34-hour rest period before drivers can start a new week. The controversy in the trucking industry stems from the stipulation that the restart cycle must include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. stretches of rest.
Bill Graves, president of American Trucking Association, said requiring truckers to have 2 overnight rest periods will mean that thousands of semi-trucks will be getting on the road as commuters are heading to work, “creating additional and unnecessary congestion and putting motorists and those professional drivers at greater risk.”
Carriers expressed concerns about loss of efficiency, decreased productivity and added freight costs as a result of the proposed trucking rules, and worry about enforcing the new hours of service rules.
The FMCSA position is that restart changes are meant to limit driving to no more than 70 hours per week. Continuously driving long hours is associated with a higher risk of truck crashes, and serious chronic health problems for the truck drivers.
“The rule follows through on the commitment that I’ve made over and over again — which is putting safety as our highest priority,” stated Anne Ferro, head of FMCSA, in an interview with Transport Topics.
I have previously expressed my support for new trucking safety rules: 3,675 people died in truck-related accidents in the United States in 2010. I urge you to support a transportation bill awaiting action in the U.S. Senate, The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act, which makes important improvements to federal truck safety standards.