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1/2/2004



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

USDOT to inform nation's truck drivers about impending hours-of-service changes



In two days, U.S. Department of Transportation's new trucking hours-of-service rules take effect — the first major changes to the regulations in more than 60 years. So, USDOT officials plan to spend the next 60 days educating truck drivers about the changes and enforcing only flagrant violations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will recommend state transportation officials write warnings instead of citations for minor violations. Federal inspectors will coordinate education and enforcement efforts from regional offices.

The new regulations provide commercial truck drivers a work/rest schedule designed to follow a person's circadian rhythm and reduce fatigue. Truckers are limited to driving 60 hours within seven days or 70 hours in eight days, and changing shifts after a 34-hour off-duty period. Current rules allow 10 hours of driving within a 15-hour period and require only eight off-duty hours between shifts.

USDOT estimates the rule changes will save 75 lives, and prevent 1,326 fatigue-related injuries and 6,900 property damage-only crashes each year, saving the American economy $628 million annually. Many railroad industry officials and observers believe the changes — in conjunction with a long-running truck driver shortage — will help increase rail traffic.


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