Controversial FMCSA Regulations Proposed to Limit Truck Driver Speed and Hours-of-Service

Fleet management take heed.  Several trucking industry regulations have recently been proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The proposed truck driver hours-of-service and speed limit regulations will have a huge impact on the trucking and transportation industry. The proposed rules are stirring up quite a heated controversy.

On Dec. 23, 2010 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a regulatory proposal that would revise hours-of-service (HOS) requirements for commercial fleet truck drivers—requirements that have gone through multiple iterations and sparked numerous legal challenges since 2004. The rules are expected to be finalized by July 26, 2011.

The new truck driver hours-of-service  regulations may cut an hour of driving time per day for all long-haul truck drivers.  The new rules would mean that truck drivers would have to take breaks after driving seven consecutive hours and wouldn’t be allowed to work as many consecutive days of long shifts as they can now.

Some of the proposed hours-in-service rules include:

  • Reducing the current 11-hour limit to 10 hours.
  • Changing the 34-hour restart rule to force drivers to include two back-to-back off duty periods between midnight and 6:00AM.
  • Require all commercial truck drivers to complete all driving within a 14-hour workday and complete all on-duty work related activities within 13 hours to allow a break for at least one hour.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also about to make a decision that could lead to mandatory speed limits on heavy trucks, as requested by American Trucking Associations and Road Safe America. The new rules could limit the speed of some commercial trucks to 68 mph.

Opponents to the new speed regulations say that  this could add up to $2 billion to the industry’s annual operating costs – costs that would passed on to the consumer.  Truck driver work time, or productivity, may fall as much as 5 percent if the new rules take effect, according to the Bloomberg Government analysis. Small trucking business fleets may be disproportionately affected given the nature of an industry where 70 percent of companies have five or fewer trucks, said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.