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Readers have likely heard by now of the partial government shutdown due to disagreements over President Obama’s health care law. One aspect of the federal government that will be spared from the shutdown is federal truck safety programs. While other Transportation Department activities will be cut back, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration activities will suffer not immediate impact.
This is, of course, a positive thing from the perspective of trucking safety. The role the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration play in promoting and overseeing trucking safety is great. The agency’s primary purpose is to improve the safety of commercial motor vehicles and truck drivers by means of enacting and enforcing safety regulations.
Many people many not realize the amount of regulations commercial carriers are bound by. One of the well known rules concerns hours-of-service. The rule limits the amount of hours drivers can spend behind the wheel. The current rule, which was recently revised, prohibits drivers from operating their vehicles for more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours of duty and driving more than 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. It also prescribes rest breaks and limits weekly hours.
These regulations are in place primarily to ensure that commercial drivers are well rested on the road and are able to operate their vehicles safely. Driver fatigue is a major cause of truck accidnets, and when truck drivers fail to follow hours-of-service rules, they risk not only their own lives, but those of other drivers.
Source: Truckinginfo.com, “Federal Truck Safety Program Will Continue Despite Shutdown,” September 30, 2013.