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January 18, 2012

New Truck Driver Hours-of-Service Rules Take Effect Feb. 27

A new DOT final rule reduces by 12 hours the maximum number of hours some truck drivers can work within a week. The rule mainly affects drivers who work more than 70 hours a week on a continuing basis - mostly long-haul truckload drivers. Local drivers and less-than-truckload drivers, who rarely work more than 5 days a week, are unlikely to be affected.

Truck Safety SignsUnder the old rule, truck drivers could work on average up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. The new HOS final rule limits a driver's work week to 70 hours. In addition, truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they need rest during the eight-hour window. The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit. The new on-duty time provisions are effective February 27. Rest break and restart rules take effect July 1, 2013.

Companies and drivers that commit egregious violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense. Trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by 3 or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.

"Trucking is a difficult job, and a big rig can be deadly when a driver is tired and overworked," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This final rule will help prevent fatigue-related truck crashes and save lives. Truck drivers deserve a work environment that allows them to perform their jobs safely."

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