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DOT Announces New Regulations on Truckers’ Hours of Service

December 23, 2011

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced new restrictions to the amount of time truckers can spend behind the wheel. DOT maintained an 11-hour limit on truck drivers’ hours, scaling back a proposal to give them more rest. The rule does introduce some new limits, including a reduction a driver’s maximum work week by 12 hours to 70 hours.

The regulations maintain the limit set in late 2008 by the Bush Administration that increased the amount of time truck drivers can spend behind the wheel to 11 hours per day. That’s like driving from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta in one stretch–and research shows it’s simply not healthy or safe.

Over-tired drivers are more likely to get into dangerous accidents. But too-long driving shifts also put truckers’ health in jeopardy – chronic fatigue, sedentary lifestyles, and exposure to diesel exhaust can lead to serious health issues. Chopping even an hour off their long hauls would have massive health and public safety benefits.

In March 2011, we called for consideration of a more fundamental revision to the rule, informed by developments in the industry and new information about health risks. Important considerations include increasing compliance, educating truckers on health risks and safety practices, and the use of heuristics to encourage these behaviors.

Consumer groups who are disappointed by the less-stringent regulation plan to continue the push to reduce the driving limit to 10 hours per day.

Filed under News, Safety and Consumer Protection