Tired driving, is dangerous driving. This principle applies to us all, but is particularly critical for commercial truck drivers who are piloting vehicles which can weigh 80,000 pounds. In an effort to address some of the safety issues in the trucking industry, namely, drowsy driving car accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented hours of service rules (HOS) regulating the breaks and maximum drive time for commercial truck drivers. The rules have been enacted to protect everyone on the road from drowsy driving accidents. On December 28, 2011, the FMCSA introduced a new provision called the 30-minute break rule, which requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break after 8 consecutive hours of driving.
The provision specifically applies to actual driving time, which means that drivers are not required to take a break after eight hours if some of that time was spent on non-driving tasks like fueling, loading, or unloading cargo. However, once a trucker has been driving for eight hours, he or she must take a 30-minute break, or they will be in violation of the HOS rules.
The following is a summary outline of some of the facts, provisions and exceptions to the 30-minute rule:
To help log time more efficiently and improve safety, truckers are required to install electronic monitors that track their time. This will help avoid HOS violations, but not all truckers and fleet companies are thrilled about this new device. Many of the smaller carriers in particular feel that the cost to install and maintain the device is a financial burden. In addition, these companies have expressed concerned about its impact on salaries.
Ultimately, the rule was put into place to ensure that truck drivers are not logging too many hours behind the wheel on too little sleep. Electronic monitors and smartphone apps like “KeepTruckin” are very user friendly, making it easy to log the mandatory 30-minute break. This particular app also notifies a truck driver if they are at risk of receiving an HOS violation.
The trucking industry is heavily regulated, and this rule is but one of many which apply to semis. However, compliance with these important safety rules is largely a matter of self-regulation.