Recent changes in federal DOT regulations have transformed the old rules regarding hours of service for professional drivers. Understanding the new mandates is important for all truckers. So here’s a breakdown ofhow they’ve changed the game in the transportation industry.

Whom the New Rules Affect

The new federal DOT regulations apply to all drivers who operate the following types of vehicles:

  • Those weighing 10,001 pounds or more.
  • Those designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, without compensation.
  • Those designed to transport nine or more passengers, including the driver, with compensation.
  • Those that transport hazardous materials, if placards are required.

What the New Rules Say

The updated federal DOT regulations became effective on July 1, 2013. Their provisions include the following:

  • Decreasing the maximum average work week for truckers from 82 to 70 hours.
  • Requiring truckers who work the maximum 70 hours within a week to rest for a minimum of 34 consecutive hours. This must include two nights from 1:00AM until 5:00 AM.
  • Mandating a 30-minute break for truckers during the first eight hours of their shift.

Comparisons with Old Rules

  • Prior regulations did not require two periods from 1:00AM to 5:00AM for rest.
  • Under the new rules, truckers may drive only if eight or less hours have passed since their last 30 minute off-duty or sleeper time.
  • Old rules counted any time spent in a commercial vehicle as on-duty, except for time spent in the sleeper berth. The new rules do not include time spent resting in a parked vehicle as on-duty.
  • The new rules classify driving, or permitting a trucker to drive, more than three hours beyond the new limits as an “egregious violation,” one which is subject to the maximum penalties set by law.

What this Means for You

The good news about the new federal DOT regulations is that drivers will have additional rest time, which should enable them to be more alert while operating a commercial motor vehicle. This is important, as every year hundreds of lives are claimed in accidents involving drowsy or distracted truckers. After all, there is no substitute for sleep.

On the other hand, driving pros face new challenges about how to budget their time. The old days of caffeine pills, endless cups of coffee, and “creative” logbook entries are over. What does this mean for you? Simply the following:

  • “Living in your truck” means just that – going through the normal daily activities that you would while off-duty. You will relax at set times, sleep at set times, and drive at set times.
  • This will in turn require clear communication with your clients, to ensure that their scheduling and shipping needs are met within a reasonable time frame.
  • The new DOT federal regulations are backed up by some pretty stiff penalties. To avoid damage to your bottom line, you will need to play by the rules Uncle Sam has set. Failing to do so could be hazardous to both your pocketbook and your commercial driving privileges.

Here at TruckingOffice, we neither endorse nor criticize the new federal DOT regulations. Our job in this blog is to give truckers the facts they need to operate both safely and profitably. Only time will tell if the updated rules make America’s highways, and its professional drivers, safer.

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