Cool Reception

Todd Dills and Avery Vise | February 01, 2011

At issue is the prevalence of fatigue as a factor in large truck crashes. During past rulemakings, ATA says, the agency had cited fatigue as being a factor just 7 percent of the time. For this proposed rule, though, ATA says, FMCSA had changed statistical weightings to nearly double the prevalence of fatigue as a causal factor. Without this “inflation” of fatigue as a cause, the required cost/benefit analysis would have failed.

How to find the rule and comment

A copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking for the hours of service is available at To comment on the proposed rule, visit and search docket ID “FMCSA-2004-19608.” Comments are being taken through Feb. 28.

Proposed changes for most drivers

Driving window

Max time on-duty within driving window

Max time driving within driving windows

Consecutive driving hours limit


Sleeper berth split as sub for 10 hrs. off-duty

On-duty definition

Current rule

14-hrs: on-duty/not driving can continue after window

14 hrs.

11 hrs.

11 hrs.

After 34 hrs. off-duty

Periods of 8 and 2 hrs. off-duty; Longer period can extend 14-hr. window

Includes any time in truck but for sleeper berth


All on-duty/not driving activities must be completed within 14-hr. window. Two 16-hr. window periods allowed per week for on-duty/not driving completion

13 hrs.

10 and 11 hours considered

7 hrs.; may drive only if less than 7 hrs. since last 30-min. off-duty period

34 hrs. must include two periods between midnight-6 a.m. 34 hrs may be used only once/week

Same 8/2 hr. split, but including all new driving, on-duty and duty-period limits

Does not include time resting in a parked truck. In moving truck, does not include up to 2 hrs. in passenger seat before or after 8 hrs. in sleeper berth


COMMERCIAL VEHICLE SAFETY ALLIANCE. “We are also awaiting FMCSA’s action related to the next rule on [electronic logs] and how they treat supporting documents in conjunction with that rulemaking. We continue to believe that an across-the-board [electronic log] mandate will help increase compliance with hours-of-service regulations and, as a result, have a positive impact on safety.”

– Laura Zabriskie, communications director

OWNER-OPERATOR INDEPENDENT DRIVERS ASSOCIATION. “To make additional safety gains, the next hours of service rule must be more flexible to allow drivers to sleep when tired and to work when rested. The rules must encourage truck drivers to get off the road when they are tired and must not penalize them for doing so.”

– Todd Spencer, executive vice president

AMERICAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS. “When viewed against trucking’s sterling safety record, it’s plain that the Obama Administration’s willingness to break something that’s not broken likely has everything to do with politics and little or nothing to do with highway safety or driver health.”

– Bill Graves, president and CEO

SAFETY ADVOCATES. “The new proposed rule does not eliminate anti-safety provisions that allow truck drivers to drive and work long hours, get less rest and drive while fatigued.”

– Joint statement from Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.