In a recent survey of the trucking industry regarding its top issues in the coming year, industry heads expressed concern over issues like driver shortage and retention, truck parking, driver distraction, and roadway congestion. All of these issues, though, were voted to be less important than the issue of hours-of-service rules. These, as readers may know, are the federal regulations governing how many hours drivers may be behind the wheel in any given day and week, but also how frequently rest breaks must be taken and for how long.

The new hours-of-service regulations put in place in 2013 have had a significant impact on the trucking industry, according to industry heads, in that they have significantly reduced productivity. The new 34-hour restart rule, in particular, has been targeted as a particular problem by the industry, which claims that it has created unintended consequences and resulted in a greater safety issue. 

The 34-hour restart rule allows truck drivers who reach their maximum 70 hours of driving with one week to start a new work week after resting for 34 consecutive hours. The rest break must include at least two nights of rest between one and five o’clock in the morning. The latter provision Under the prior restart rule, there was no requirement to have two nights of rest within specific hours. Because of the rule, truckers say, they are forced to drive during the daytime hours, which has lead to more roadway congestion and potentially more truck accidents.

The American Trucking Associations has been pushing to change the law, but until that happens truckers are bound to comply with it. Motorists who are harmed by a negligent trucker have the right to recover damages for the injuries and losses, and working with an experienced attorney is important in order to ensure the best possible outcome in one’s case.

Source: Commercial Carrier Journal, “Hours-of-service rules back on top in 10th annual survey of trucking industry concerns,” Kevin Jones, October 7, 2014.