U.S. revises hours of service rules for truck drivers

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Transportation Department on Thursday published new rules revising hours of service requirements for truck drivers that will expand short-haul driving and save the industry $2.8 billion over 10 years.

The department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said the changes include lengthening the short-haul drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

The decision, which takes effect this fall, could give a boost to online shopping.

The U.S. trucking industry employs more than seven million people and moves 70% of U.S. domestic freight.

Some Democrats in Congress and labor unions opposed the changes to short-haul driving, saying it would lead to more fatigue-related crashes. The department said it did not believe the data supported the contention that crashes would increase.

“Expanding the workday from 12 to 14 hours may result in more deliveries than were possible within a 100 air-mile radius, but total driving time will usually continue to fall short of the 11-hour limit,” FMSCA said.

The department will also allow truck drivers to take a required 30-minute break using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status and will allow drivers to split a required 10 hours off duty into two periods and extend by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted during adverse driving conditions.

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