New Trucking Regulations for Drivers to go into Effect

Effective February 27, 2012 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will institute a series of rule changes designed to keep driver’s on the road more alert and thus safer. There is an inherent strain here place upon the logistics planning for most routes now. With limitations being imposed upon 34 hour restarts, rest breaks, and on-duty time, route planners must begin to reshape their planning methods in order to comply. These new regulations carry with them significant civil penalties so it’s in the best interest of trucking companies to be in compliance with the new laws.

The largest change here has to do with two new rules which will now be governing the previously unregulated topic of 34-hour restarts. The two new rules limit what was quickly becoming a favored practice in some corners of the transportation industry. These new laws limits these restarts to only being used once a week, and these restarts must include a 1 AM to 5 AM home terminal time as well. Furthermore, the FMCSA has taken aim at the role of rest breaks and what can now qualify as break time. In accordance with FMCSA rule HM 397.5 truckers can only drive 8 hours (or less) between 30 minute break periods. Now however, drivers have seen changes in the way they can register the mandatory ‘in attendance’ time and how it can be counted as part of a break time if no other duties are performed. This is important as too many truckers were getting delayed trying to meet both requirements of the rest times while supervising their vehicle. Now carriers don’t need to worry about keeping the two separate. Such confusion was a big reason the FMCSA pushed to get this legislation through to clarify the issue. For further clarification of all the possible scenarios which apply to these changes feel free to look through the in-depth FAQ offered by the FMCSA.

This bill also finally allows for rest to be logged in a parked CMV. On-Duty time no longer applies if the Drivers resting in a parked CMV. This is a huge break through for drivers and the paperwork they are charged with keeping straight. But it is also a breakthrough for the FMCSA to apply such common sense to the realities of the trucking life. The rather rigorous standards that the FMCSA had set (as well as their stringent penalties) were unfair to the majority of truckers. It is a good display that the FMCSA was able to create legislation which worked with the truckers’ realities instead forcing unobtainable restrictions upon them.

A final note that the bill makes could be considered a significant warming for those who dare test the resolve of the FMCSA to enforce this new piece of legislation. 3 hours worth of violations is qualified as ‘egregious’ and the fines will match it. This is to show a heightened presence on the roads and keep companies on the straight and narrow.
So there you have it truckers, these are the new rules. Many make life on the road much easier, but they also lowered the threshold for the egregious fines. Adaptation will be key moving forward to ensure your business gets top logistics with these new requirements.