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5:49 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Commercial truck drivers face new limits

The U.S. Department of Transportation is making changes that will limit the amount of time commercial truck drivers can spend on the road.

A revision to the hours of service safety requirements for commercial truck drivers will take effect this February. For example, drivers are currently limited to working 82 hours in a seven day period, and that will drop to 70. Chuck Gohring with the Missouri Department of Transportation works with commercial operators one-on-one to make sure they’re in compliance with federal rules.

 “Well, like just about anything, change is sometimes tough to work with, although with the trucking industry the hours of service rules have changes so much even in the last 10 years, that that’s one thing that can be expected,” Gohring said.

Operators will be given until July of 2013 to come into compliance with the new rules before fines can be levied for what are called “egrerious violations.’ He says that’s when drivers exceed the 11 hour per day driving limit by more than 3 hours. Gohring says smaller and local operators are pretty good about complying with these types of regulations, and fines don’t have to be enforced often.

“Probably more the exception to the rule, but it’s typically the larger companies that do a lot of interstate, cross country trips,” Gohring said.

Gohring says the real motivation for the new rules is safety for both the commercial drivers and regular commuters on the road. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the rules are based on the latest research on driver fatigue.