There have been various changes to the laws pertaining to the hours of service for truck drivers over the years. The most recent changes took place in April of 2007, and they were met with a great deal of controversy. The idea behind these new hours of service is to ensure all truck drivers get enough sleep and to keep the roads safe.
Yet for many truck drivers, the hours of operation have left them with having to split up their sleep time in order to accommodate their load times. In their opinion, this leaves them feeling more tired then the way the old hours of operation were. In many instances the hours of operation laws require the driver to get sleep when they aren’t tired, but they are out of hours.
A truck driver can legally drive for a maximum of eleven hours during any fourteen hour period of time. Once that eleventh hour has been reached, the driver must rest for a minimum of ten hours. In addition there is a weekly clock that the driver has to abide by as well. No truck driver can legally drive more than sixty hours over a period of one full week.
Each driver has to keep a daily log book that shows their hours of operation, sleep time, off duty time, and vehicle inspection time. If a truck driver is pulled over by law enforcement or pulled into a port, the log book can be reviewed. If the driver is in violation of the hours of operation they won’t be able to move their truck until they have had adequate hours of rest. They can also receive a hefty fine in order to help reduce the number of driver’s with such violations.
Any time a semi truck is involved in an accident, the log book is checked over to make sure they are in compliance with the hours of operation. If they aren’t, the driver will likely get a citation regardless of who was at fault for the accident. These penalties have quickly taught truck drivers and trucking companies that breaking the hours of operation laws just isn’t worth it.
The issue of these hours of operation continues to cause problems for the entire trucking industry. Drivers claim they aren’t able to make enough money due to the hours and there is a high rate of turnover in the business now. Many business owners have to charge more for hauling freight due to the time it takes to get it moved now. These costs are passed on to the merchant and ultimately to the consumers.
In July of 2007 the issue what taken before the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court struck down the option to return to the previous hours of operation laws that were implemented in 2005. The ruling was made because the judges felt the new hours of operation offer more safety to truck drivers and the public in general.
This is a debate that continues to get more support for both sides as time goes on. Many of the various trucking companies, drivers, and trucking industry support organizations continue to build a case that the hours of operation are unconstitutional. They believe it is costing them money and having a negative impact on the overall economy.
Other organizations fight to keep the hours of service in place. They believe it protects truck drivers from unrealistic demands of employers who are more interested in making a profit than the health of their drivers or the safety of everyone on the roads.
You can expect to see this issue in the courts again and again as both sides of this battle attempt to push forward with their information to make a case for why the hours of operation should or shouldn’t be enforced. For the time being though truck drivers and trucking companies have no choice but to be in compliance with them.