Owner-driver jobs in the United States of America have, for the past year and a half, been functioning under a new, stricter set of guidelines, designed to make sure the profession’s working environment is as safe as possible.
The new guidelines were first drawn up in the latter part of 2011 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is an arm of the American Department of Transportation. Their initial goal was to restrict driving hours, to prevent fatigue and overworking in drivers; as a result, many professionals in the field saw their average working week cut down from eighty-two hours to only seventy, by way of a restructuring of the ‘resetting’ system.
The way this new system works is by limiting reset periods to once a week, as opposed to before, when drivers could reset their working weeks whenever they took at least thirty-four hours off. In addition, drivers are now asked to take two consecutive periods off between 1am and 5am, and to take a thirty-minute break after each eight-hour period of driving. The maximum number of daily driving hours that each individual is allowed remains, as before, at eleven.
Hotly contested as these new rules have been, the US Department of Transportation has stated that they will help prevent an average of one thousand four hundred truck crashes, five hundred and fifty injuries and nineteen deaths per year, whilst affecting only fifteen per cent of drivers.
Many drivers have since voiced their dissent, claiming corporate and owner-driver jobs alike will be affected, and on a much larger scale than the American Department of Transportation’s statements suggest. At the same time, other voices claim the American Department of Transportation did not go far enough, and that even stricter rules should have been put in place. These parties mostly suggest a return to the pre-2003 limits of ten hours of driving per day and no weekly resets, claiming any other configuration tends to put profit ahead of safety. The American Department of Transportation, however, stands firm in its upholding of the new code, claiming financial and health benefits have surfaced in their latest analyses.
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