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Court upholds changes to hours-of-service rules for truck drivers

No matter what field you work in, chances are that your industry has its own jargon that outsiders don’t always understand. Similarly, there may be industry-related news that is interesting to you and your colleagues even if it seems boring to the rest of the world.

Unless you’re a professional truck driver, you probably don’t know much about the changes to the “hours of service” rules or the resulting legal battle that was meant to block them. But if you regularly drive or ride in any sort of motor vehicle, a recent court ruling on HOS rules should be of interest to you. This is because more stringent HOS rules will likely have a direct impact on the rate of devastating truck accidents.

In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced changes to the rules governing truck drivers’ allowable hours of service. These changes included things like putting limits on consecutive driving hours, capping the number of driving hours per week and implementing mandatory rest breaks.

The HOS rules changes are meant to combat a very serious problem on U.S. roads and highways: truck driver fatigue. Drowsy driving can be dangerous or deadly no matter what size vehicle you’re in. But truck drivers who fall asleep at the wheel can easily cause traffic pileups resulting in multiple deaths.

Unfortunately, due to arrival deadlines and other economic pressures, many truck drivers push themselves to stay awake and drive for far longer than is healthy or safe. Hopefully, these HOS rules changes will reinforce the important idea that sleep and rest are not optional.

Groups representing the trucking industry have been vigorously fighting these changes in court. But thankfully, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., recently upheld all HOS rules changes save for one minor provision.

Regulations need to be in place to balance the interests of business against the need for public safety. And when it comes to safety behind the wheel, regulation in the trucking industry positively impacts every other driver on the road.

Source: Supply Chain Digest, "Logistics News: Hours of Service Changes Here to Stay, as Court Challenge Fails," Aug. 5, 2013

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