U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Contact: Andy Beck
New Trucking Hours-of-Service Rule Begins Sunday; Transportation Officials
Detail Education and Enforcement Plans
U.S. Department of Transportation officials today released details of a plan to
educate truck drivers about and to enforce a new hours-of-service rule. Starting
Jan. 4, when the rule is implemented, state and federal officials expect to
spend the first 60 days waging an aggressive education campaign and enforcing
The education and enforcement plans have been designed to ensure long-term
compliance and understanding of the safety rule. The new hours-of-service rule
represents the first major rewrite of the hours-of-service regulations in more
than 60 years. It synchronizes the commercial drivers' work and rest schedule
better with the body's circadian rhythm to reduce fatigue and save lives.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will ask states to write
warnings instead of citations for all but flagrant violations. State officials
are also being encouraged to use every stop in the first 60 days as an
opportunity to educate drivers about the new rules. In addition, federal
inspectors will coordinate education and enforcement efforts from regional
offices across the country.
"The new safety rule gives us the means to save hundreds of lives, protect
billions in commerce and safeguard our roads and highways for years to come,"
said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta. "We must do whatever we
can to make certain everyone is aware and in full compliance as soon as
It is estimated that the new hours-of-service rule will save 75 lives, prevent
1,326 fatigue-related injuries, and prevent 6,900 property damage-only crashes
annually, resulting in a cost savings to the American economy of $628 million a
"This new rule combines the best scientific research and real-world analysis to
prevent driver fatigue," said FMCSA Administrator Annette M. Sandberg. "The
measure of a rule is how well it works. That is why we are taking every step to
make sure drivers know about the changes and follow them."
The new regulations provide commercial truck drivers a work and rest schedule
that is more in line with a person's circadian rhythm and thus is expected to
significantly reduce driver fatigue. For example, the new rules allow long haul
drivers to drive 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
Similarly, truckers may not drive after being on duty for 60 hours in a
seven-consecutive-day period or 70 hours in an eight-consecutive-day period.
This on-duty cycle may be restarted only after a driver takes a "weekend" off,
that is, at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.
The current rules allow 10 hours of driving within a 15-hour, on-duty period and
requires only eight hours of off-duty time.
Detailed information about the rule is at
www.fmcsa.dot.gov, and FMCSA has staffed
a toll-free telephone line around the clock to answer drivers' questions. The
phone number is 1-800-598-5664.
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