Hours of Service Rule for Trucks Takes Effect June 2012

Compliance with regulations limiting the number of hours to be driven by truck drivers has been a difficult goal to achieve. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has adopted regulations that not only place an hourly limit in a shift, but also place restrictions on the off-duty time between shifts and other limitations designed to contend with driver fatigue considerations. The regulations point out that—in 2008—large trucks were involved with 365,000 recorded crashes, averaging 1,000 crashes per day. Of those, 64,000 caused injuries and 3,700 involved fatalities. Driver fatigued is considered to be a major cause of the crashes, injuries, and deaths.

The FMCSA hours of service rule that is to go into effect on June 4, 2012, would require that—if a carrier is found to violate hours of service (HOS) rules 10% of the time—the carrier utilize electronic onboard recorders to track driver compliance. In the past, hours were recorded in paper logs that were oftentimes fictional enterprises. Electronic recording, on the other hand, is much more accurate and can permit real time detection of violations and more immediate enforcement.

In January of 2011, the FMCSA announced that it was considering an expansion of the use of electronic onboard recorders. Whereas the rule to go into effect in 2012 would apply to 5,700 interstate carriers, the new rulemaking being considered by the agency would expand its reach to all of the approximately 500,000 carriers now required to maintain driver logs. There would be additional documentation requirements on the part of the drivers and carriers would have greater responsibility to monitor compliance. Given the expanded use electronics by carriers as part of their fleet management systems, the greater use of those systems to track and record hours of service should be mandated.