Truck driving is difficult work, requiring intense concentration for long periods of time. In order to increase driver and traffic safety, and to reduce the risks of fatigue in the trucking industry, the Department of Transport introduced a set of regulations in 2011 known as Hours of Service.
Here’s what you need to know about these rules.
Who It Applies To
On a federal level, the Hours of Service (HoS) regulations apply to drivers of any property-carrying commercial motor vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds. It also applies to anyone driving vehicles that are designated for use in transporting hazardous materials if the amount is sufficient to require a placard.
Drivers carrying more than nine passengers (for compensation) or 16 passengers (not for compensation) are also affected, although their HoS requirements are slightly different from the ones we’re listing here.
Drivers aren’t the only ones liable if found in breach of the rules. The companies who employ the drivers also face consequences in the case of any violation, even if they were unaware of it.
For property-carrying drivers, the DOT regulations on driving hours are:
- They must only drive up to 11 hours within a 14-hour time frame.
- They must have 10 consecutive hours off duty before their next driving period.
- They must have at least 30 minutes uninterrupted rest every eight hours or less.
- They must drive only up to 60 hours per seven consecutive days, or 70 hours per eight days if the company operates seven days a week.
- They can reset the 60/70-hour limit with a rest of 34 consecutive hours or more.
- They must log all hours of service on paper or electronically.
Why Are They Important?
While the DOT Hours of Service limits might seem strict, compliance is crucial for a number of different reasons. These include:
- Avoiding fines – The DOT performs regular audits of drivers and their employers, and breaches can result in severe penalties.
- Avoiding driver injury – Not only does an injured driver require compensation and short or long-term replacement, but the personal cost of an accident to the driver can be significant and debilitating.
- Avoiding crashes – Our roads and highways are the lifeblood of the country. Great care should be taken to make sure they’re safe for everyone, at all times.
Even if you already follow the DOT Hours of Service regulations to the letter, there’s always more you can do. Your own fatigue management is also incredibly important to both reducing driver error and managing a productive fleet of drivers. Some of the ways this can be done is through improving diet and exercise, managing sleep properly, using monitoring technology, and recognizing hazards.
Providing the right working environment is also key. Even something as simple as a custom truck seat can make a big difference to the driver’s comfort, health, and, ultimately, tiredness.
Whether you manage a team of drivers or are a long-haul driver yourself, you need to do everything you can to manage fatigue. Shop at Suburban Seating & Safety and give yourself a break with the best semi-truck seats in the industry.