Most truck drivers work standard hours, Monday to Friday. Some are even required to work on Saturdays. Long distance truck drivers don’t have it so lucky. They can work long hours, amassing up to 82 hours over seven days. That is about to change with new federal regulations limiting the number of hours that a truck driver can work each week.
Truck drivers are no different to anyone else – they get tired after working long hours. One of the leading causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue, so to combat this, the U.S. Department of Transport is bringing in new rules. Drivers will be limited to 70 hours over seven days, with a maximum of eleven in one day. They will also need to take a break of at least 30 minutes after an eight hour driving stint.
If a truck driver does maximize their working hours (work the full 70 hours), they will be required to take at least 34 consecutive hours off, and that means out of the truck. The downside for some truck drivers will be the loss of income. Some drivers are paid according to the miles they drive each week – the loss of twelve hours represents a reduction of almost 15%; that’s 15% less mileage and 15% less in a pay packet.
On the positive side, it will increase the number of truck drivers required to complete the same amount of work as now. In theory, a 15% reduction in work hours should equate to a 15% increase in the number of new drivers required. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple – many trucking companies are already limiting their truck drivers to 70 hours each week.
For truck drivers, this change will have an important effect on their daily routine. They will need to keep very accurate log books that clearly show the number of hours they have spent behind the wheel, the length of any breaks, and the number of hours they have spent outside their vehicle. Failing to keep accurate logs is a serious offense, one that could result in a truck driver losing their job, their license, and their ability to work as a truck driver. In the long run, reduced hours are better for truck drivers, and perhaps other drivers on the roads as well. Tired truck drivers do cause accidents, so if this move helps to reduce that effect, then the roads will be safer for everyone.