Limit on hours of service for truck drivers in place

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- The US Department of Transportation has put a cap on how many hours semi drivers can be on the road.

The DOT says the goals of the changes, which kicked in July 1st, are to reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes and long-term health problems for drivers. But the trucking industry says the provisions are only going to hurt it.

New rules limit the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours; a decrease from the previous maximum of 82 hours, something a local truck company owner says will hurt the industry.

“When you're on a clock schedule like you are when you're on the road; it's tough to keep appointments, schedule deliveries,” explained owner of Rock Solid Transport LLC, Mike Harsh.

The new regulation will also allow truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week to resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights when the DOT says their body clock demands sleep the most - from 1-5 a.m. Harsh says most drivers like driving at night because there is less traffic.

“When I drove, I preferred driving at night; less traffic, less people around. So now they’re telling me, after I’ve been up all night, and driving that, now they’re telling me I have to sleep at night. ,” added Harsh.

Harsh says cap on Hours of Service will make night deliveries more difficult, increase congestion delivering costs.

But the federal government says new safety regulations will save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year.

Harsh also says there are a few prevision he agrees with, one of which is the requirement to take a 30 minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.

The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day.

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