Long-haul commercial truck drivers may spend many hours driving in a range of conditions, including at night or in the early hours of the morning, making it very possible for them to experience fatigue during their shifts.
Drowsy drivers pose risks on the road regardless of vehicle type, but the excessive size and weight of semi-trucks makes fatigued operation particularly dangerous. Two rules enacted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration aim to tackle this issue head-on.
The Hours of Service rule
A few years ago, the FMCSA revamped its guidelines for how many hours a commercial trucker could work and drive each work week and each working day. People who transport products and goods may work up to 14 hours in a single day, but only 11 of those hours may be spent behind the wheel. Those driving hours must be preceded by an off-duty period of a minimum of 10 hours.
A break period must be taken every eight hours and should last at least 30 minutes. Work weeks may span seven days and up to 60 hours or eight days and up to 70 hours.
The Electronic Logging Device rule
Commercial trucks must now be outfitted with special devices that track and report key metrics like engine idle time and engine drive time. The use of the ELDs aims to prevent violations of the Hours of Service rule.
Enforcement of the ELD rule began in late 2019 and, as explained by Transport Topics, provided no period of soft enforcement for drivers or trucking companies despite calls for such a plan.