One of the most common causes of truck accidents in the U.S. is fatigued truck drivers. Truckers are often expected to drive hundreds of miles a day and deal with a wildly inconsistent sleep schedule. Chronic sleep deprivation can have significant effects on a person’s ability to drive safely. Sleepiness can cause reduced reaction time, decreased awareness, and difficulty paying attention. It is estimated that being fatigued makes you three times more likely to be involved in a car accident. In fact, The National Safety Council states that driving 20 hours without sleeping is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent. However, increased demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the FMCSA to modify the rules regulating truck driver hours of service.
Updates to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Hours of Service
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hours of service rules regulate how long commercial truck drivers may drive without taking a break to rest. Recent updates to these regulations include:
- The short-haul exception has been increased from 100 to 150 miles and drivers’ maximum on‑duty period has been increased to 14 hours.
- The 14-hour on-duty constraint has been extended by up to two hours in situations involving adverse driving conditions such as unusual traffic conditions, road problems, or heavy fog or snow.
- The required 30-minute rest break after eight hours of driving may now be satisfied by on-duty/non-driving rest periods.
- The mandatory 10-hour off-duty rest breaks may now be satisfied by rest periods of at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and 2 consecutive hours in or out of the sleeper berth.
Advocacy Groups File Lawsuit Against FMCSA and Department of Transportation
Some people are concerned that the new hours of service rules may increase the prevalence of accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers. Several safety advocacy groups including Parents Against Tired Truckers and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways filed a lawsuit in which they requested reconsideration of the new hours of service rules. In a press release, representatives for the groups stated that the modifications will weaken hours of service regulations and increase the threat of fatigued drivers....