December 22, 2011 5:00 PM, EST

DOT Keeps 11-Hour Limit for Truck Drivers in Updated Hours-of-Service Rule

The Department of Transportation released its final hours-of-service rule Thursday, holding truck drivers’ daily driving limit at 11 hours while setting restrictions on drivers’ weekly hours.

Click here for TT’s Special Report on the HOS rule. (TT subscription or 14-day pass required.)

DOT trimmed drivers’ maximum weekly hours to 70 from 82, and said drivers’ 34-hour restarts must include two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

The restart provision allows drivers to reset their weekly work cycles by resting for 34 hours. The change requires that time block to include two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., in an effort to get drivers to sleep two nights.

Research previously cited by DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said that ensuring nighttime sleep reduces driver fatigue.

The trucking industry, along with shippers, business interests and a large group of allies, had vehemently opposed an FMCSA proposal issued last December that would have set a 10-hour daily limit on driving.

The rule “does not include a change to the daily driving limit because the agency is unable to definitively demonstrate that a 10-hour limit — which it favored in the notice of proposed rulemaking — would have higher net benefits than an 11-hour limit,” FMCSA said. “The current 11-hour limit is therefore unchanged at this time.”

The final regulation, which takes effect July 1, 2013, has annual costs of about $470 million and benefits of around $630 million, DOT said.

Meanwhile, trucking and shippers’ groups reacted negatively to the rule, saying it would not improve safety and would cause more congestion.

“This final rule will help prevent fatigue-related truck crashes and save lives,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “Truck drivers deserve a work environment that allows them to perform their jobs safely.”

“This final rule is the culmination of the most extensive and transparent public outreach effort in our agency’s history,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro.

“With robust input from all areas of the trucking community, coupled with the latest scientific research, we carefully crafted a rule acknowledging that when truckers are rested, alert and focused on safety, it makes our roadways safer,” she said.

The full rule, which is being sent to the Federal Register Friday, is available on FMCSA’s website at