Trucking hours-of-service rule violators to get warnings

Federal officials have asked state law enforcement agencies to initially give truckers warnings for violating the new hours-of-service rule, effective Jan. 4.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta recently announced that states will be asked to write warnings instead of citations during the first 60 days of the new regulations.

An “aggressive education campaign” will accompany the new hours, he said. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will coordinate education and enforcement efforts nationwide and will offer a hotline for trucker questions about the new rule.

“As we get closer to the implementation date, we are finding that too many truckers still have questions about these rules,” Mineta said. “It’s our version of on-the-job training for drivers who aren’t sure how or whether the new safety rules apply to them.”

The new rule, announced in April, represents the most significant change in trucker working hours in 60 years. Under the new rules, drivers will be allowed to operate their vehicles up to 11 hours in a 14-hour duty period, compared to the previous limit of 10 hours. However, each period must begin with at least 10 hours off duty, rather than eight hours.

FMCSA retained the portion of the old regulations stipulating that drivers can remain on duty for 60 hours in seven consecutive days, or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. For construction-related drivers, each seven- or eight-consecutive-day period on duty must begin with at least 24 consecutive hours off duty.

FMCSA officials are answering hours questions around the clock at (800) 598-5664. Click the link to the right to read HOS information at the agency’s website.