Highway officers to educate truckers on hours-of-service rules
State police will phase in enforcement of new U.S. safety regulations detailing how many hours truck drivers can stay behind the wheel before taking long rest breaks and work to promote informed compliance during the first 60 days.
The hours-of-service rules go into effect Sunday and represent a major challenge to motor carriers, who must adjust their operations and work schedules to make sure drivers don’t exceed work limits.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said states are being asked to write warnings instead of citations for all but the most egregious violations as part of a campaign to ensure long-term compliance with the rule.
The new rest and work schedules are designed to reduce driver fatigue that can lead to accidents. The Department of Transportation estimates the rule will save 75 lives and thousands of crashes each year, eventually resulting in a cost savings of $628 a year once companies absorb the short-term cost of hiring more drivers, adding more equipment or making other operational adjustments.
Under the new rules, an operator of a commercial vehicle can drive 11 hours after 10 consecutive off-duty hours. Truckers may not drive after being on duty for 60 hours in a seven-consecutive-day period or 70 hours in an eight-consecutive-day period and cannot get back on the road until they break for 34 hours.
The current rules allow 10 hours of driving within a 15-hour, on-duty period and requires only eight hours of off-duty time.