U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
Thursday, March 4, 2004
Contact: Dave Longo, 202-366-0456
Enforcement of New Hours-of-Service Rules Begins Today;
Truck Driver Education to Continue
Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today announced that state officials are being asked to begin enforcement of the new hours-of-service rules starting today (March 4). The hours-of-service regulations put safety limits on the number of hours commercial drivers can work and operate trucks each day.
Since Jan. 4, 2004, the Department's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and state officials have led an aggressive educational enforcement program designed to teach drivers about the new rules and ensure flagrant violations were rigorously enforced. The effort included the distribution of more than a million pieces of literature, countless seminars with the trucking community, and thousands of phone call responses to drivers' questions.
"We finally close the book on World War II-era rules that were too restrictive of drive times and too tolerant of dangerously long workdays," said Secretary Mineta. "The new rules will help drivers earn a good living without having to put their lives on the line."
The Department is encouraging state officials, who conduct the majority of truck checks, to begin enforcement of the hours-of-service rules following the 60-day educational period as they would any other FMCSA safety regulation. States are expected to begin enforcement as soon as their inspectors are fully prepared, just as they would with other road safety rules.
"The steps we have taken to make sure drivers know about the changes and follow them are paying dividends," said FMCSA Administrator Annette M. Sandberg. "Carriers and drivers are learning about the new hours-of-service rules and want to comply with the changes."
The Department will continue to monitor feedback from the nation's truckers to decide what additional education is needed, Secretary Mineta said. While initial feedback has been focused on compliance, anecdotal reports show the new hours-of-service rules are contributing to added efficiency within the supply chain by encouraging shippers to load cargo more quickly, Sandberg said.
The new rules represent the first major rewrite of the hours-of-service regulations in over 60 years and attempt to synchronize the drivers' work and rest schedules with the body's circadian rhythm to reduce fatigue and save lives. It is estimated the new rules will save 75 lives and prevent 6,900 crashes annually, saving the American economy $628 million a year. Visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov for information.
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