Setting new work restrictions on commercial truck drivers to be enforced starting July 1 2013, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s final rule Dec. 22 didn’t offer many changes.
While the agency had proposed cutting back maximum driving time to 10 hours, the final rule retains the standard of 11 hours for the maximum workload for truckers in a day. However, the final rule cuts 12 hours from the maximum amount of hours a truck driver can work per week, from 82 hours under the old rule to 70 hours under the new rule.
“For the produce industry, retaining the 11-hour limit is helpful,” said Julie Manes, director of government relations for Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association. Manes said the extended phase-in period will help the industry adjust to the new rules. Manes said the association will conduct outreach to members to sort out other concerns about the final rule.
The rule requires truck drivers take a break of at least 30 minutes after driving for eight hours. The rule said drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they need rest during the eight-hour period.
The rule also requires drivers who maximize their weekly workload to take at least two nights rest from the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. time period. That rest requirement is part of the rule’s 34-hour restart, a provision that allows drivers to use the restart provision only once during the seven-day period.
The agency said blatant violations of the rule could result in fines of up to $11,000 per offense for trucking companies and $2,750 per offense for drivers.
The rule can be seen at the Department of Transportation web site.
One organization expressed concern the final rule could hurt the livelihood of small truckers.
“The changes are unnecessary and unwelcome and will result in no significant safety gains,” Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said in a news release Dec. 22.