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New Rules for Commercial Drivers from February

30 December 2011, at 1:34am

US - The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued new rules on hours of service for commercial vehicle drivers to come into effect on 27 February 2012.


On 22 December 2011, the FMCSA released a revised hours of service (HOS) rule for commercial vehicle drivers. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on 27 December 2011. The rule has been slightly modified from the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking of 29 December 2010, which the poultry and egg industry opposed in a comment letter on 28 February 2011.

FMCSA's new HOS final rule revises the 34-hour restart provision. Following a 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days maximum work week, a driver must have 34 consecutive hours off-duty. Effective 1 July 2013, the revision requires that the 34-hour restart period include two 1 a.m. – 5 a.m. periods based on FMCSA's assertion that nighttime rest is more restorative than daytime rest. The final rule is an improvement over the original proposal, which required two 12:00 a.m. – 6 a.m. periods but may require as little as 34 hours or as much as 48 hours off duty depending upon when driving week ends.

Paul Pressley, USPoultry's Executive Vice President of Industry Programs, commented: "Since the current hours of service regulations were introduced in 2003, truck related fatalities have dropped 33 per cent to the lowest levels ever recorded. The poultry industry remains committed to safely operating its truck fleet and have organised their schedules and routes around the existing regulations. The new rule will restrict the on-duty hours available for many drivers and increase the number of trucks and drivers necessary to deliver our products without any demonstrated improvement in highway safety."

Effective 27 February 2012, the new rule specifies that driving (or allowing a driver to drive) three or more hours beyond the driving-time limit may be considered an egregious violation and subject to maximum civil penalties of $11,000 per offence for the trucking company and up to $2,750 for each offence for the driver.

USPoultry continues to monitor and respond to regulations that impact the poultry and egg industries and will keep the industries abreast of any further modifications to the HOS rule. The comment letter sent to FMCSA by the poultry and egg industry on 28 February 2011, can be viewed on US Poultry &&Egg Association's web site [click here].