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Trump’s Hours of Service Rule Proposal Will Put More Fatigued Truckers on the Road

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has finally unveiled a proposal for revising the Hours of Service Rules that govern interstate truckers.

While the Trump administration maintains that the rule changes will allow for much-needed flexibility, safety advocates argue that the weakened regulations will only encourage more fatigued and over-worked truckers to take to the road.

What the Trump Administration is Proposing

The federal government enacted the Hours of Service Rules to prevent fatigue-related truck and 18-wheeler crashes. In their current form, the regulations limit long-haul interstate truckers to 11 hours of driving time within a 14-hour on-duty window and require a 30-minute break after 8 hours behind the wheel. Drivers must also have had 10 consecutive hours off duty before the on-duty clock restarts.

If the Trump administration’s proposal goes forward, truckers could take a break while they are on duty but not driving. The FMCSA also wants to allow drivers to “pause” the 14-hour on-duty window for an off-duty break of up to three hours, provided the driver still takes the 10 consecutive hours off duty at the end of the work shift.

Truck and 18-Wheeler Crashes Already Rising

Trucking industry groups have long sought to weaken the Hours of Service Rules, and insist the proposed changes won’t compromise safety. But critics aren’t so sure.

“The agency is offering flexibility without regard for the fact that it could be exploited by the worst actors in the industry, including drivers who will operate while fatigued and motor carriers who will coerce them to do so,” Harry Adler, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, told the Associated Press.

Accidents involving 18-wheelers and other large commercial trucks were already up 10% in 2017. According to the National Highway Safety Transportation Agency, at least 60 of those incidents occurred while truckers were either asleep or fatigued. Unfortunately, the true number of fatigue-related truck and 18-wheeler crashes is likely far higher, as police often fail to note driver fatigue on accident reports.

Hours of Service Rule: What Happens Next?

The Hours of Service Rule proposal was published on the Federal Register earlier today.

The FMSCA indicated it would hold two public listening sessions to discuss the changes, with the first taking place Friday, August 23rd, in Dallas, Texas. The agency plans to convene a second session in Washington D.C. sometime next month.

The FMSCA will also accept written comments from the public for 45 days. They may be submitted online at

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