U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a final rule that employs the latest research in driver fatigue to make sure truck drivers can get the rest they need to operate safely when on the road. The new rule by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revises the hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements for commercial truck drivers.

FMCSA’s new HOS final rule reduces the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a seven-day period by 12 hours. Under the new rule, a driver’s work week is limited to 70 hours.

In addition, truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they need rest during the eight-hour window. The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit.

The rule also requires truck drivers who maximize their weekly work hours to take at least two nights’ rest when their 24-hour body clock demands sleep the most – from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. This rest requirement is part of the rule’s “34-hour restart” provision that allows drivers to restart the clock on their work week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. Drivers are allowed to use the restart provision only once during a seven-day period.

Commercial truck drivers and companies must comply with the HOS final rule by July 1, 2013. To learn more about the FMCSA’s Final Rule visit the FMCSA website