Major Changes to HOS Rules Waiting Decision from White House

December 5, 2010

The White House is the final stage for new American legislation as it waits for the President's signature, and a major new law on Hours of Service (HOS) is expected shortly. While there has been no official statement yet, at least one major trucking organization is expecting major rule changes which include:

  • Reduction in driving hours
  • Increase in the number of rest hours prior to weekly duty restart
  • At least one mandatory rest-break per shift

The American Trucking Association (ATA) has been campaigning to keep the existing HOS rules in place, but this looks like a rearguard action at the moment. The ATA has issued a white paper which summarizes the reasons why the existing HOS rules, which have been in force since 2003, should be retained. They make a compelling set of arguments, backed by the statistics from the governments itself, that show that fatalities due to HOS issues has dropped significantly to an all-time low of around 1.5 fatalities per 100 million large truck miles.

The drop in fatalities demonstrates that the existing rule regime is working and working well – the old adage applies, if it ain't broke don't fix it!

It isn't just fatalities which have dramtacially dropped; the number of injuries has also plummeted since the existing rules took effect in 2004:

There is one change the ATA would like to see with the existing rules, and this would provide for an increase in rest options with greater flexibility with the sleeper berth rule.

A major issue is why the rules need changing? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed law change does not seem to be rooted in road safety (as the statistics demonstrate), but it is thought there is an argument for better driver health (which doesn't seem right given the number of hours being worked overall is largely unchanged).

Whatever the outcome, if the rule changes do come through it is going to mean a change in working practices and a raft of new paperwork to catch up with.

You can keep up with the HOS rule changes and what they mean for you at

Chart source:

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