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Will this behind-the-wheel trucking change promote or hinder safety?

Many of our readers in Louisiana and elsewhere have likely heard the term "hours of service" (HOS) in reference to the commercial trucking industry.

Its thrust is quite simple and premised on public safety. Truck drivers across the country were at one time unburdened by any regulation that limited the hours they spent behind the wheel on a given day. They are now limited by federal law to a maximum workday of 14 hours, with no more than 11 of those hours actually spent driving.

The HOS limitation has invited both praise and scorn. In the latter encampment are many drivers who have long chafed under the 14-hour mandate. They regard it as both unrealistic and rigid. A recent article spotlighting the rule notes drivers' stressed need "to rest when they are tired, rather than when the regulatory clock says they should."

Federal regulators have listened to industry complaints and are now responding with a pilot program that will give truckers up to three additional hours to play with.

To wit: A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposal announced last week will evaluate the results of the 14-hour maximum workday now being expanded to 17 hours. The rationale is to give drivers some added discretion in determining when they really need to rest and expanded flexibility in juggling their schedules.

That leads of course to questions surrounding public safety. Although truckers making adjustments can arguably better control their workday, that day in some instances will be significantly lengthened from what has been the norm.

We will keep readers duly apprised of any material updates that are reported concerning the pilot initiative.

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