The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced changes to the hours-of-service (HOS) rules, designed to improve highway safety and help reduce truck crashes and related fatalities and injuries by addressing driver fatigue. The agency intends to expand its research on electronic onboard recorders (EOBR) and other technologies, along with evaluating alternatives for encouraging their use to ensure HOS compliance and record keeping. Under the new rules, drivers are allowed to drive 11 hours after 10 consecutive off-duty hours, an increase of two off-duty hours from the current requirement of eight hours. They may not drive above the 14th hour after coming on-duty following the 10 off-duty hours. Drivers may not drive after being on-duty for 60 hours in a seven-consecutive-day period or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. The cycle is restarted when the driver takes at least 34 hours off-duty. Short-haul truck drivers may increase the on-duty period to 16 hours once during any seven-consecutive-day period. FMCSA estimates that these new rules could possibly save as many as 75 lives and prevent an estimated 1,326 fatigue-related crashes each year. In 2002, there were an estimated 4,902 truck-related fatalities in traffic crashes. The rule will apply to drivers transporting freight in interstate commerce in commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of at least 10,001 pounds. Drivers will operate under the current requirements through Jan. 3, 2004.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials