DOT Hours of Service: The Ongoing Battle to Suspend the 34-Hour Restart Rule

In an attempt to address the major cause of deadly truck crashes – driver fatigue – the US DOT and FMCSA passed a truck driver 34-hour restart rule in July 2013. This safety-focused rule required truck drivers to have a 34-hour rest period with two consecutive sleep periods between 12:00 am to 5:00 am, or two nights resting or sleeping.

More Rest Equals Safer Roads

DOT 34 Hour Restart Rule Has Caused Some Friction with Truckers
DOT 34 Hour Restart Rule Has Caused Some Friction with Truckers

Finally putting an end to the old rule that allowed for a frighteningly dangerous 80-hour work week, this waiting period regulation was passed to ensure that truck drivers have adequate rest when operating on our highways.

It is essential for the safety of our truck drivers and the safety of families and loved ones who share the road with them.

The regulation was not passed without concrete evidence that truck drivers are better rested and more alert after two nights of sleep than after only a single night. In fact, a major field study confirmed that nighttime drivers with only one night of recovery score significantly poorer on multiple kinds of safety assessments.

Ignoring the Safety Facts

The argument of the trucking industry lobbyists is that the 34-hour restart rule does not reduce fatigue and is costing the industry a lot of money. In my research, I can find no data, studies, reports or other evidence that suggest that the restart regulation is either jeopardizing safety or harming the nation’s transportation productivity as the trucking industry argues. Despite the clear evidence supporting the regulation, the trucking industry is moving for the regulation to be suspended with cries of it being too costly and limiting for them to operate productively.

The Public Wants Safe Roads

It has been regularly reported in the news that every year 4,000 people are killed and more than 100,000 are injured in trucking crashes, with a major cause of those accidents being proven to be driver fatigue. In fact, nearly half of all truck drivers have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at least once in the previous year.  These unacceptable statistics are making an impact on the public’s willingness to tolerate unsafe drivers. A recent study showed that 80% of all Americans oppose increasing the amount of time trucking companies can demand their drivers spend on the job.

I truly hope that Congress will do the right thing and not suspend a trucking regulation that has been proven to reduce driver fatigue and truck crashes while not reducing the commercial trucking industry’s productivity or profits.

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