The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently put new and much needed rules in place regarding the schedules of truck drivers. The FMCSA has been repeatedly lobbied for years to put stricter rules in place to make our roads safer for motorists and reduce the risks of truck accidents. In 2011, after several attempted revisions, the FMCSA finally put the current rules in place.
These rules require truck drivers to have a 34-hour “weekend” to serve as a restart for the work week. This is a floating weekend that must be used once during a seven day period, and it must include two nights. This rule would force truck drivers to take the proper time off needed to be adequately prepared to drive the massive tractor trailers on our nation’s highways. The rules even allow for an 11 hour driving limit, which is more than the previous 10 hour limit permitted. The rules also require drivers to take a 30 minute rest break before they embark on a trip that will last for more than 8 hours.
These rules seem flexible, safe, and allow for a lot of hours on the road for drivers to make money. However, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) recently challenged these rules in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in ATA v. FMCSA. The court found that the rules created by the FMCSA were rational and were consistent with the appropriate cost-benefit analysis. The court did chose to vacate the 30 minute break rule, but otherwise the stricter rules remain intact. Thankfully, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals recognizes just how dangerous a collision with a fatigued driver behind the wheel of a tractor trailer could be for all the motorists and pedestrians on our city streets.