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July 24, 2013
New trucker rules remind everyone to stay rested

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New federal regulations to reduce truck driver fatigue have been fully in effect since July 1. First announced in 2011, the rules limit the average workweek for truck drivers to 70 hours and ensure that they get adequate rest.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) says more than 85 percent of truckers will see no changes, as only the most extreme schedules are impacted by the new rules.

Facts about workplace fatigue

According to the DOT, working long hours on a continuing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a high rate of crashes, and other serious chronic health conditions in drivers.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep, but many adults get far fewer. The problem is especially true for those who work nontraditional schedules. Sleepiness is linked to many problems, including poor concentration, accidents, absenteeism, injuries, and even fatalities. One study links insomnia with nearly 275,000 workplace accidents and errors and more than $31 billion in costs.

Make sure your employees are driving and working rested by sharing information about causes and cures for workplace fatigue. Best practices in “sleep hygiene” include:

  • Wake up at the same time every day if possible;
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine before bedtime;
  • Exercise, but not within 3 hours of bedtime;
  • Sleep in a dark, quiet, cool room; and
  • Keep a sleep diary to record patterns.

The final DOT rules retain the current 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour workday. Companies and drivers that violate the rules could be fined $11,000 per offense and drivers could face civil penalties of $2,750 for each offense.

The DOT estimates the new regulations will save 19 lives and prevent 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year.

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