New Act Gives Truckers a Break, But How Will it Impact Safety?
The “REST” Act (Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers) would allow truckers to take up to a 3-hour rest break per shift, fostering safe habits without impacting their on-duty allowance. The new act, petitioned by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) would create more flexibility for drivers to address bad weather, rush hour traffic or other periods of highway congestion, feelings of tiredness or fatigue, dock delays and other conditions that decrease safety.
OOIDA calls for the elimination of the existing 30-minute break requirement, that forces drivers to stop when they do not need to.
No Statistical Improvement to Highway Safety with Current Regulations
OOIDA argues that the current Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations create a psychological situation for many drivers, forcing them to engage in behavior that’s realistically unsafe such as driving while fatigued or driving too fast. The current rules are overly complex, fail to provide flexibility, and do not reflect limitations or physical capabilities. The Act would pause the 14-hour clock but truckers would still need to log at least 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time before their next shift begins.
KeepTruckin analyzed data from its ELD and found that truck drivers experience about seven detentions per month and after their release, they’re feeling the heat, which forces them to drive an average of 3.5 mph faster to get to their next destination. The inflexibility of the 14-hour clock is causing other challenges as well. Truckers can’t pause the clock to allow for the weather to pass, road congestion to clear up, or to take a nap. If a trucker spends 45 minutes searching for a parking spot, for instance, the ELD will capture that and the driver can’t stop the clock. And if he moves his truck to make room for others, it starts his clock, counting toward the driver’s 14-hour duty allowance.
The number of crashes involving large trucks has increased since the introduction of the current hours of service rules. Regulations under the new act would help ensure that drivers are well-rested before they continue their shift. This would promote alertness and the flexibility necessary to foster operating habits that improve highway safety.