Recently, new regulations overhauled the rules governing truck-driving hours. They shorten the workweek, limit how many nights a truck driver can be on the road, and require truckers to take a certain amount of rest breaks during the day.
The Obama administration believes that these regulations will reduce crashes from sleep-deprived CDL drivers getting behind the wheel. The new regulations would cap a truck driver’s average workweek at 70 hours, a 12 hour decrease from the previous maximum limit of 82.
Many CDL drivers and trucking companies have not been pleased by these new rules. They contend that this is going to cost them serious money.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to enforce the regulations by routinely checking work logs, which CDL drivers are required to keep.
Failure to comply with the new rules could result in fines of up to $11,000 for companies and $2,750 for individual CDL drivers per offense.
One trucker who has been driving a big rig all his life remarked, “It’s hard … they have no clue what they’re doing.” He noted that the new rules will hurt him and do not help him because he will be losing out on 12 hours worth of pay per week.
However, the Transportation Department says 3,887 people were killed in 2012 in crashes involving large trucks and one study revealed that roughly 13% of large-truck crashes involve a sleep-deprived driver.
Although truck-crash fatality numbers have been trending down over the past decade due to new technologies, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) explained that fatigue-related crashes are still far too prevalent. These newest rules aim to reduce crashes while minimizing the impact on the industry.
With mounting criticism about the reduction in income looming in the background, Anne Ferro, chief of the FMCSA said, “My mission is to save lives.”
Despite all of the concern from CDL drivers, the government noted that only 15% of the nation’s 1.55 million long-haul truckers would be affected since most do not have routes that require such long hours and unionized truckers already have a shorter workweek.