The transportation of goods is a cornerstone of the American economy — getting products where they need to go, when they need to be there, and in the proper condition is an integral part of a number of different industries. Trucking, as an industry, plays a large role in the way Americans are able to live, which is part of the reason regulating it is so essential. While trucking is necessary, rules need to be in place to promote safety on the roads.
The Rules and Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is a branch of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and whose mission it is to prevent commercial motor-vehicle related deaths and injuries, has updated a few rules and regulations.
The FMCSA has lowered the maximum number of hours a driver can drive in a week to 70 hours, which is about a 15% decrease. When a truck driver reaches between 60 and 70 hours of work, they are required to spend 34 hours off duty before being able to get back behind the wheel. In 2003, however, drivers were required to spend 48 hours off duty before being able to drive again.
Breaks must also be taken at certain times. The 34-hour rest periods must include two periods between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Additionally, truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break within their first eight hours of driving.
The major impact of the rules and regulations is that they are going to save lives, notably because of the increased requirement for rest. Thirteen percent of large bus and truck deaths were caused by drivers who were fatigued. The head of the FMCSA, Anne Ferro, expects that the collective changes could save as many as 19 lives per year. Additionally, Ferro estimates that the regulations will prevent 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year.
Although there is a considerable amount of backlash from the trucking industry (truckers could lose over a half a billion dollars) over the changes, they only really affect less than 15% of the trucking population. In any case, the rules and regulations have the potential to prevent crashes, save lives, and reduce injuries.