Agency Keeps Current Truck Driving Hours Limit
Texas drivers in Travis County and everywhere else take note: the next time you see a truck driver on the road, he or she may be at the end of an 11-hour shift.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently announced that it has decided not to change its 11-hour shift limit for truck drivers. The agency was under pressure from other government transportation agencies and some members of the public to lower the cap to 10-hour shifts, in the interest of protecting other drivers on the road from accidents.
The debate all came down to differences in perspective. Truck drivers needing to make a living in a struggling economy were opposed to the lowered cap in work hours, and those concerned about public safety – including those who have lost family members in accidents involving driver fatigue – felt that reducing their hours would make highway driving safer.
After all, truck driving is among the most dangerous jobs in the country, with thousands of truck drivers killed on the job each year. How many of those deaths resulted from driver fatigue? Exact statistics are extremely difficult to pinpoint. But the agency decided in the end that the cost to save some lives was too high because the research the agency reviewed did not show that lowering the limit by one hour would make a big enough difference.
Anyone who has lost a loved one in a truck accident caused by driver fatigue would probably disagree.
Yet, the agency did make some changes to reduce the risks associated with truck driver fatigue. For example, truck drivers are now required to take 30-minute breaks and cannot work more than 60 hours in seven days and 70 hours in eight days. These changes will ensure truck drivers are not too tired while driving vehicles weighing anywhere from 4,000 to 8,000 pounds. Even if it saves one life, the family of that one life saved will find the change in the law priceless.
Source: “FMCSA may be relying on 34-hour restart, 30-minute breaks to offset 11th-hour risk” TheTrucker.com, 12/30/11