How Long Can Truckers Drive Before Taking a Break?

Regulations are in place for all commercial truck drivers to ensure they are not being overworked. A tired or worn out trucker is a danger to his or herself and everyone else on the road. The main restrictions on drivers are the hours they can drive and mandatory breaks. These rules are set by the United States Department of Transportation.

Duty Periods

The DOT breaks the time a driver is working into work and duty periods.  A work period is like a work week, whereas a duty period is like a work day. Because drivers do not always work conventional hours, DOT regulations are based on the actual hours worked and not specific hours during the day. So, for example, a work week could start at 5:00 pm on a Tuesday or 3:00 am on a Saturday and can be different for every trucker.

There is a seven-day work period for truck drivers. Drivers can work seven days in a row but must have a break of at least 34 hours in a row before starting a new seven day work period. To understand this better, consider this schedule:

  • Bert ends his seven day work period on Sunday at 6:00 pm. Following the 34 hour rule, his start up time would be 4:00 am on Tuesday.

The work period runs from the start time and date to that date and time the next week. For example:

  • If a driver begins the work period at 6:00 am on Sunday, then it ends at 6:00 am the next Sunday.

To begin a new work period, a trucker must have ten hours off work. The total number of hours that can be worked in a work period is 60.

Each duty period lasts 14 hours, which is known as the 14-hour rule. Drivers can drive for up to 11 hours during the duty period. However, after driving for eight hours, the driver must take a break of at least 30 minutes. Breaks of any kind count against the 14 hours duty period time. Here’s an example of a daily schedule that follows this rule:

  • Bert starts his work day at 6:00 am.
  • Bert takes a 30 minute break after eight hours at 2:00 pm.
  • He then drives from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
  • He takes another break to eat dinner from 4:00 pm until 5:30 pm.
  • Bert only has one more hour that he can drive, so he drives from 5:30 pm until 6:30 pm, at which time he reaches his destination.
  • Bert may then work unloading the truck or doing other non-driving duties until 8:00 pm when his 14 hour period is over.

So, the driver can drive for 11 of the 14 hours and do other things, such as getting fuel, for the other three hours. At the 14 hour limit, though, the driver can no longer drive and must take 10 hours off before starting a new duty period.

Exceptions

As with most things, there are exceptions to the basic rules. If a driver is starting and ending at the same location for a one day assignment, then the driver may work 16 hours. The actually driving time, though, is still limited to 11 hours. If there is a lay-over, then this exception cannot be used. This can only be used once in a period and requires a 34 hour break before it can be used again.

Bad weather can slow a truck down, so this can also cause an exception to be allowed. If road conditions are bad, a driver can take up to two extra driving hours during his or her duty period. The 14-hour duty period limit, though, still stands. This exception can only be taken when the extra driving hours are needed to reach a safe place to stop and get off the road.

Penalties

If a driver does not comply with DOT rules on breaks and work hours, there are penalties that will be assessed. These include:

  • Revocation of driving privileges until a rest break is complete
  • Fines at the state and federal levels
  • Reduction in carrier’s safety rating

A carrier may face even stiffer penalties at the federal level, especially if it is found to have knowingly made drivers break the law.

Possible Changes

It can be tough for drivers to maintain the hour and break requirements, especially when under pressure to get loads to their destinations on time. Many find the 14-hour rule to be especially difficult when break times are included against it.

Because of this, some lawmakers think there is a need for changes in the DOT hours of service. A bill, called the REST Act, is currently being proposed to change the ruling on breaks counting against the 14-hour limit. The act seeks to give drivers up to a three consecutive hour break period that does not count towards their 14 hours. The Act also aims to use this new three hour break to eliminate the 30 minute break requirement.

Regardless of whether changes occur or not, DOT is strict about the hours a trucker can drive. This is to help prevent them from driving when tired or otherwise unable to pay proper attention to the roadway, thus keeping everyone on the road safer.

The ELD Deadline Has Passed: Now What?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration put into effect a new mandate for truck drivers regarding how they log their hours. The ELD mandate went into effect on April 1, 2018 and requires all drivers to now use an electronic logging device to track and record their hours of service. These devices are installed into the vehicles and automatically record driving times. If a driver is found to not have an ELD and not be using one to log hours of service, the driver will fail an inspection and not be able to drive.

What Happens When a Truck Is Not ELD Compliant?

The rules under the mandate indicate that on and after April 1, 2018, all drivers must use an ELD. If a driver is not using one, he or she cannot drive and must be placed out of service. They will not be required to stop driving at an inspection point, though. They can continue to their destination, but cannot drive after that. The driver cannot drive again until after a ten hour period even if he or she becomes compliant within that time. Drivers may face fines if they are not compliant with the law.

How To Ensure Compliance

Drivers and carriers must take ELD requirements seriously to avoid penalties. To ensure compliance, drivers need to choose a device from the list of FMCSA-approved ELDs. It is also important for drivers to remember that not all electronic recording devices are created equal, and therefore, not all are approved. The devices that will comply with FMCSA regulations all draw information from the engine automatically. Also, as part of the mandate, a driver must have with him or her in the truck the user manual, ELD malfunction sheet and data transfer instructions.

Once they have a device, truck drivers need to learn how to use it. Having it is not enough to be completely compliant. It is important that a driver knows how to transfer the information on the ELD because this must be done during inspections. In addition, every driver must know how to log out.

Dealing With Common Issues

Since ELDs are being used to monitor service hours and ensure drivers are staying within the limits and operating legally, it is imperative to ensure the information on the device is accurate. However, there have already been some common issues that are causing problems for truck drivers.

As with any electronic device, an ELD can malfunction. This was taken into consideration when the law was implemented. If their devices malfunction, drivers are allowed to use a paper log system for up to eight days while the ELD is repaired. The eight day period can be extended but a request must be made. Extensions are typically granted if the device is not accurately recording hours due to an internal issue, but decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

ELDs have an edit feature that every truck driver needs to know how to use. Edits may be required in many different situations to fix issues with recorded hours that were not actually drive hours. Only a driver should edit information in the ELD because the driver is the one ultimately responsible for the information. Edits made by others have to be approved through the system before they are recorded. If a driver does not okay an edit, it will not be recorded.

The device keeps a record of both edited and unedited versions of the logs, so any mistakes can be fixed and edits cannot be used to get around the hours of service laws.

Another common issue is hours when the driver is not the one behind the wheel yet they are recorded as drive hours. The best way to avoid this issue is to assign a maintenance log in for anyone else who will drive the truck. For example, if the truck requires maintenance, then whenever the truck is driven by maintenance personnel, they need to use the maintenance log in. That way, the hours are going under something and not being left for the driver to have to worry about.

While the new ELD rule can be great for many reasons, such as reducing paperwork, some may find it frustrating. However, being compliant with the FMCSA’s ELD requirements is mandatory. Drivers are the ones who ultimately hold the responsibility to ensure compliance. They need to be aware of the rules and know how to use the device properly or they could face penalties.

What is the ELD Mandate?

Truck drivers and other commercial motor carriers need to be aware of the ELD mandate, which all commercial fleets must implement by December 18, 2017. Some drivers may be asking, what is the ELD mandate? ELD stands for Electronic Logging Device, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration passed a rule that requires commercial vehicles to use these devices to electronically record a driver’s duty status.

Prior to the mandate, truck drivers used paper logbooks to record their hours of service. Not only does an ELD reduce the time it takes to fill out the paperwork, it also provides a number of other benefits to drivers as well as fleet and safety managers.

ELD System Functions

Tracking compliance in regard to hours of service is just one of the functions of an ELD system. Some of the others include:

  • Report on driver behavior – this includes information about idling, hard braking, and speeding
  • Map integration and rerouting – helps truckers avoid construction and navigate areas of high traffic
  • Automation of IFTA – makes it easier for companies to report fuel use under the International Fuel Tax Agreement
  • Streamlines DVIR – drivers must record and turn in driver vehicle inspection reports on a daily basis

ELD Benefits

The ELD mandate is expected to result in a number of benefits for both drivers and management. The initial goal of the system was to cut down on the amount of paperwork and increase accuracy. By doing so, it reduces the hassle of having to fill in a paper log every day; saving everyone time.

Dispatchers are able to keep up with a driver’s status in real time, and there is increased communication with those on the road. This helps them plan for the trip more efficiently and make sure everyone is in compliance in regard to the hours of service. Drivers themselves are also able to make better time because their routes are more streamlined thanks to the rerouting function.

For many companies, an ELD system will lead to increased revenue over time. This is especially true for businesses that integrate ELDs with other telematic equipment throughout their fleets. The data gained from these systems can help in the following ways:

  • They can show how to reduce the costs of operations and fuel
  • Show how to proactively maintain fleet equipment
  • Demonstrate how to create more uptime
  • Increase utilization rates

Integrating ELD systems can also improve customer satisfaction. With the optimized routing of trucks, materials and supplies are delivered quicker and with fewer delays.

Improved safety is also a benefit of using ELDs. Commercial trucking companies have a lot of liability, and overtired drivers have always been an issue. Because an ELD keeps track of the hours of service, drivers cannot fudge the time they are on the road. This keeps them more alert and able to stay safer, reducing the number of accidents. In fact, studies have shown that drivers who are well rested log around 10 percent more miles every week and are less likely to quit the job compared to those who work on limited sleep.

The rule surrounding ELDs include articles that prevent drivers from harassment. If drivers feel they have a valid case, the mandate has a provision for drivers to file a complaint with the regulatory board.

Exemptions to the Mandate

While most commercial trucks are required to have ELDs installed by December 18 of 2017, there are exceptions to the rule. Small businesses that have vehicles that are older than 2000 are not required to comply with the new rules. Companies with driveaway-towaway functions are also exempted as long as the shipments include the driven vehicles. For example, the ELD rules do not apply to businesses that deliver new motor coaches, and similar vehicles, to the dealers direct from the manufacturers.

Companies that do not have  long-distance operations,  are not subject to the log book rules, may not need to install ELDs. This is because records that are limited to fewer than eight days every 30 days are part of the exceptions.

ELDs and Tired Drivers

Although the use of ELDs have shown to reduce accidents due to less driver fatigue, the mandate is not enough to prevent tired drivers from being on the road. Companies are strongly encouraged to analyze the data they collect from the ELDs. Comparing different schedules and driving behavior can go far to determine which drivers are the safest on the road.

Some data scrutiny has shown that consistency is important. Drivers who start at the same time every day, no matter what that time is, are at a lower risk on the road. Those who drive irregular shifts tend to have more accidents.

Surprisingly, data has shown that short-haul drivers typically are at higher risk than drivers who drive longer hauls. The theory is drivers with longer drives have more opportunities to take a break and even a short nap if needed.

Auto-Issued DOT Numbers- What We’ve Seen and What You Can Do

We’ve been seeing something a little strange lately here at Western Truck Insurance Services and we wanted to keep all of our loyal clients informed. We haven’t seen much information about this online, but it is something that several clients have experienced. If you’re having problems with this, or with anything else relating to your insurance, give us a call and we’ll happily help you sort things out.

Last year all clients with a California MCP # only were automatically issued a DOT #. We believe that the California DMV forwarded the information to the FMCSA for the applications. The problem is, much of this information was outdated. We had clients receiving their DOT # with an incorrect address, old registration information, etc. These clients never asked for or applied for this number. It was automatically issued to them. The California DMV is trying to transition to using DOT #s and provided this information to the FMCSA from their last update, but if things changed during the year, the information was outdated.

What Can Be Done?

If this happened to you, or happens to you in the future, what can you do? If you have insurance through Western Truck Insurance Services, get in touch with us and we’ll help you sort things out. This is what we’re suggesting:

  • Go online and check your information. This would typically be at the FMCSA website (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration). You can also call them at 800-832-5660.
  • Order your PIN for future updates. This allows you to update online in the future.
  • Print the MCS 150 page.
  • Call your insurance agent and discuss how to fill everything out properly. This is very important. Make sure things are filled out correctly to avoid future problems down the road. Please call us first!
  • Fax/mail in the documentation and keep a copy for yourself.
  • This is the first time we’ve seen something like this happen, but as the transition goes through, we’ll be here to help you with this and all of your other insurance needs. Get in touch anytime you have a question. We’re here to help you ‘Travel with Care’.

Trucking Trends- Where Are We Now?

The American Trucking Association recently released ATA American Trucking Trends 2016, a comprehensive analysis of the state of the trucking industry. Overall, it was a strong year for trucking and we hope it was a great one for you too.

What’s the Current State of Trucking?

Looking at where the industry is now can help you decide the best paths as you guide your business into the future. Here are a few statistics pulled from the report. What did 2015 look like for you? More information is available from the ATA.

  • Trucking Still Dominates Freight– Trucks carried more freight than any other method, approximately 70% of domestic freight tonnage.
  • Trucking Gross Revenues– Trucking collected more than $726 billion in gross freight revenues during 2015. This was a record setting year for freight revenues.
  • More Money Spent on Trucking– In 2015 trucks received 81.5% of the nation’s freight revenues.
  • Number of Trucks in Operation– More than 3.6 million Class 8 trucks were in operation in the U.S. during 2015.

Where Is the Trucking Industry Headed?

There are certainly challenges in the trucking industry, including increased regulation, fluctuating fuel costs, and driver shortages. As a driver it can be hard to know what the future holds. In addition to the annual Trucking Trends report, the ATA recently released an industry forecast, looking at the future of freight. Let’s take a look at a few highlights.

  • Expected Tonnage Growth of 35%– Between 2016 and 2027 overall freight tonnage is expected to grow 35%. The amount of freight moved by trucks will grow about 27%.
  • Pipeline Use Expected to Grow– The use of pipeline to move freight is expected to increase from about 10% to 17%. This will result in loss of market share by other methods of moving freight including trucking, water, and rail.
  • Truckload Volumes to Increase– Truckload volumes are expected to increase about 2% each year until 2022 and 1.6% annually from 2022-2027.

What Do These Numbers Mean for Me?

Only time knows exactly what’s in store for the trucking industry, but these two reports from the American Trucking Association are positive news for the industry. Right now trucking is still the predominant method for moving freight and revenue and truckload volumes are on the rise. Strong growth is expected to continue over the next several years.

As the industry changes, your insurance needs may too. We are here and ready to help you adjust your policies and find the right coverage for your situation. As your needs change, get in touch and we’ll help you keep your policies up to date.

A Successful Trip Starts with a Pre-Trip Inspection

At Western Truck Insurance Services our motto is “Travel with Care”. We want you to get there safely, happily, and carefully every single time. Now, we can’t guarantee your safety each time you get behind the wheel, but we do know a secret to greatly increasing your chances of a successful trip: pre-trip inspections. They are required by law for a good reason, but all too often drivers slack on this important safety check. Have you mastered the pre-trip inspection?

How Long Should My Pre-Trip Inspection Take?

Are you a whiz at rushing through the pre-trip inspection? With a safety check this important, slow down and take your time. Five minutes isn’t long enough for a good inspection. How long should you spend? It really depends on your speed and familiarity with the truck. A good inspection might be over in 20 minutes or may take longer, 45 minutes or more. Make sure you check everything from the gladhands to the tires, and don’t forget about checking your tarps and binders too. Quality, not quantity, is what really matters on your pre-trip inspection.

When Do I Need to Perform Pre-Trip Inspections?

The FMCSA rule § 396.13 requires that drivers “be satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition” before operating a vehicle. If you’re driving a truck you haven’t driven before, this will require a thorough inspection before you set off. If you’re more familiar with the vehicle and been driving it all day, a quick check may be in order. Daily inspections are a must and ideally you’ll be checking in for safety hazards throughout the day as well, just to make sure things are working as expected.

What Do I Need to Inspect?

Inspection requirements can vary from company to company and even from state to state. Know your specific requirements and when in doubt, over-inspection is better than under-inspection. This guide from the state of Oregon could easily fit on a single page (front and back) and serves as a helpful reminder of some components you may be missing. Think about keeping a copy of this, or something similar, in your truck to help jog your memory on those inspections. At a minimum the FMCSA rule § 396.11 requires:

  • Service brakes including trailer brake connections
  • Parking brake
  • Steering mechanism
  • Lighting devices and reflectors
  • Tires
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers
  • Rear vision mirrors
  • Coupling devices
  • Wheels and rims
  • Emergency equipment

We’ve noticed that tarps and binders are often under-inspected, but can really lead to damage and injury when they aren’t in good repair. Check your tarps and binders too. When they start wearing out, replace them.

Will Anyone Know if I Skimp on Inspections?

It’s a busy day and you’ve got hundreds of miles to go before you run out of hours or maybe you’re fighting the clock with a daylight hours only restriction. You may think that skipping one inspection isn’t going to hurt anyone. Truth be told, it might. Pre-trip inspections are one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from potentially deadly crashes. Shirking those inspection duties can spell bad news if your logs are checked. If you get in an accident, that’s one of the first things they’ll look for. Even if no one else finds out you were lazy when inspecting, you’ll know. Do your inspections and do them right.

We want you to get home safely and know that pre-trip inspections are one of the keys. If you’ve been slacking on your inspections, make a change and do them right. Believe us, the hassle of the inspection is nothing compared with potential repercussions of an accident. And if you do run into trouble, know that we’re here and ready to help you.

Our Favorite Apps for Truckers

Make the most of your smartphone. This handy device isn’t just for checking emails and making calls on the go. With the right apps your phone can quickly become an indispensable work tool, something you use just as often as your logbook or your pocketknife. Here are some of our favorite apps for truckers.

Find a Truck Stop

When you need a hot shower or want to spend an evening streaming Netflix, you need the amenities of a truck stop. Wherever your travels take you, find a truck stop with ease using Trucker Path Pro. One of the top rated apps for finding truck stops this app can help you find and compare options, check fuel prices, and see real-time parking availability. If you have a specific chain you like to frequent, look for their specific app (most big name truck stops have one), but this app is ideal for checking out a broad range of available options. Available for Android or Apple.

Find a Rest Stop

Need a potty break? The USA Rest Stop Locator app can help you stretch your legs, check your load, or find an easy access bathroom anywhere in the U.S. Choose your state or browse the map and quickly find the rest stops nearest you. Available for Android or Apple.

Stay in Touch

You miss a lot when you’re away from home, but video chat apps can make it easier to stay in touch with friends and family back home. Skype is available for most mobile devices, including Android, Apple, Blackberry, Amazon Fire, and others. You can Skype with others for free if they use the service too or can call landlines around the world for set, per minute or per month fees. The Facebook Messenger app also offers video call options.

Log Your Hours

Ditch the paper log and go electronic, without having to spend a fortune on expensive software. If you want a highly quality, easy to use electronic log, try KeepTruckin, our recommendation for ELD mandate compliance. This program automates log audits, alerting to anytime there is an hours of service violation. If you’re tired of faxing in paper logs, go electronic with one of the most affordable and convenient options available. Free and paid plans are available.

Keep Up On Inspections

Manage your required inspections in a snap with the DVIR 2.0 Pre-Trip Inspection app. The app allows for the required signature and reports are easily emailed for up to 100 days. You can even add custom inspection criteria as needed. Available on Android.

Truck Insure On-the-Go

Sending insurance certificates has never been easier. Our mobile app allows you to quickly send your insurance information to brokers, clients, and others with just a few clicks. Fax and email sending options are available. If you use Western Truck Insurance Services for your truck insurance needs, this app is a must.

Do you use any of these handy apps? Which ones are your favorite?

 

ID Theft and Truck Drivers- Are You at Risk?

An estimated 17.6 million Americans fell victim to identity theft in 2015. Everyone is at risk, young and old, millionaire or living paycheck to paycheck. Truck drivers too. Learn the ways you can protect yourself from id theft, on the road and at home.

ID Theft Risk Factors for Truck Drivers

Truck drivers have a few unique risk factors for id theft. Do you increase your risk with any of these common behaviors?

  • You Shouldn’t Carry Documents – Is your Social Security card in your wallet? Do you carry your birth certificate with you on long hauls? Some drivers carry important documents in their truck, or worse their wallet, increasing the risk of id theft. When you carry these documents with you, the chances of them being lost or stolen increase. Whenever possible leave your important documents in a secure location, like a locked safe. Most of the time you won’t need them with you on the road.
  • Mail Sensitive Paperwork– You’re across the country and discover you need your birth certificate. What should you do? Many drivers choose to have their paperwork mailed,a risky proposition if you aren’t careful. If you do mail paperwork, choose services with tracking. If you fax sensitive documents, be very cautious. Choose a secure service for both the sending and receiving of the documents. If a copy will work, use one, rather than the original and make sure that it is clearly marked as a copy.
  • Using Your SSN on 1099s– Many owner operators use their personal Social Security number for business taxation purposes. Although this save you from filing a little extra paperwork, it can increase your id theft risk. Each and every time you book a load you’ll be sharing your SSN so the business can create a 1099 at the end of the year. Who knows how securely they store your information? See if you can get an Employer Identification Number instead. This number works like a SSN for your business and shields you from having to share your personal number for business purposes. Learn more from the IRS or your tax professional.
  • Using Free Wi-Fi– Free Wi-Fi is great for saving on data, but isn’t always the most secure. Use caution when using free Wi-Fi and avoid accessing sensitive pages. Save the online banking for a more secure connection.

Other Ways to Protect Yourself from ID Theft

The risk for id theft is real, but there is much you can do to protect yourself. Try these tips, many of which can be easily done from home or sitting in a truck across the country.

 

  • Check Your Bank Statements– Check your card statements often, looking for unfamiliar purchases. It can be harder for some truck drivers to spot fraudulent charges since they may use their cards at locations around the country. Keeping a detailed list of purchases and amounts will help you stay on track.
  • Use Credit, Not Debit– Credit cards have stronger fraud protections than debit cards and are generally a safer choice. Many credit cards offer $0 fraud liability as long as the purchase is reported within the designated window. When a fraudulent credit charge is under investigation, the purchase is put on hold and you’re not responsible for the charge. With debit, you may be without the money until the investigation is complete.
  • Check Your Credit– At least once a year you should check your credit, looking for any suspicious accounts. You can get your free credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com, the only authorized source for your free yearly reports. This guide from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will help you learn what to look for and will point you in the right direction if you do find a problem.
  • Limit What You Share– Keep personal information sharing to a minimum. Use security settings on social media and give out your SSN only when necessary.

 

How do you keep your identity safe on the road?

Teens and Big Trucks: Should They Be Allowed to Drive?

Should teens be able to drive big trucks? Right now you can’t drive a rental car until 25, but you can start driving 80,000 pound trucks at 21 interstate and intrastate(in most states) at 18. If a new law passes, younger drivers may soon be able to drive heavy trucks across state borders. Proposed regulation wants to change the age limit for interstate trucking to 18, with some provisional conditions. What do you think? Will this new regulation help get more drivers on the road or is the safety risk much too great?

The Risks of Younger Drivers

Younger drivers are notorious for getting into accidents. Drivers aged 16-19 have the highest annual crash rate and that’s just behind the wheel of a car, not a heavy truck. In states where 18 year olds are allowed to drive 80,000 pound trucks, younger drivers are 4-6 times more likely then 21+ drivers to get in an accident. Safety experts worry this plan could lead to disaster on the road.

While younger drivers are more likely to get in an accident, they are already on road and driving big trucks. In most states current regulation only keeps them from crossing borders, not from driving. Proponents of the law argue that the regulation changes make sense. Right now teens can drive hundreds of miles around a state, but can’t drive 10 miles across a border.

The Benefits of Younger Drivers

There is a need for more drivers and allowing younger drivers to drive interstate could lower recruiting costs and increase the number of applicants available. With transportation costs on the rise, some hope that younger drivers could help slow the rising prices in transportation (contract costs increased 3-5% this year). The law would potentially give fresh out high school graduates more job opportunities.

The Proposed Regulation

The proposed regulation would allow the FMCSA to create a 6 year pilot program allowing younger drivers to cross state lines. The regulation would allow states to enter into agreements with each other allowing the younger drivers. States would be free to place limits on these drivers (like limiting types of cargo, limiting routes, creating hours they can drive, etc.).

The regulation has passed the Senate, but still needs approval from the House of Representatives.

What do you think about this proposed regulation? Should we allow more teen drivers on the road?

 

Hours-of-Service and Safety- Are the New Rules Working?

Those HOS (hours-of-service) rules can certainly get in the way, but the good news is, they seem to be working. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report examining the most recent round of HOS changes (implemented in 2013) and the FMCSA responded to the report and agreed to move forward with the changes.

Positive Impact of HOS Changes

The GAO examined data from the first 18 months of the new HOS regulations. Here’s what they found:

  • Reduction in Drivers Working 65+ Weekly Hours– Drivers in the sample were 24-29% less likely to work more than 65 hours per 8 day week. The number of drivers working over 65 hours was 12% before the rule and decreased to 6% afterwards.
  • Fewer Hours Worked Per Week– The GAO found that the drivers in their study worked about 1.1 to 2.5 fewer hours each 8 day week after the new HOS rule was implemented. This ranges from 2-4.8% fewer hours.
  • Fewer Restarts- Drivers in the sample took fewer restarts per 8 day week (approximately 6.1-6.5% fewer).
  • Less Fatigue– Drivers that comply with the HOS requirements should experience a lower peak fatigue level, especially in the earlier days in their work cycle.
  • No Increase in Early Morning Crashes– They also found no increase in crashes during the 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. window, a worry that many critics of the regulation originally had.

There was little change in the number of crashes reported (and a possible decrease in the number of fatalities).

Other Ways to Stay Safe on the Road

Hours of Service rules are the law and they may help you to be safer on the road, but they aren’t the only way to increase your safety on the road. Here are a few other simple changes you can make based on recommendations and statistics from the GAO report.

Drive During the Day- The study found that drivers driving a nighttime schedule were on average much more fatigued than drivers working during daylight hours. To reduce fatigue, drive during the day if you can. If you must drive at night, here’s a great presentation from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) about drowsy driving.

Be Aware of Danger Times- The report found that crashes were more likely to occur when the roads were icy rather than dry, foggy rather than clear, and during dawn rather than daylight hours. Although you should be vigilant at all times, difficult road conditions do increase your risk of an accident. Be extra careful if you must drive during these times.

Don’t Speed– The most commonly cited reason for driver-caused crashes in 2012 was speeding. If you’re guilty of driving too fast, slow down.

It looks like the new HOS rules are here to stay. Have you noticed any changes (positive or negative) due to the changes in the HOS rules?