There are many commercial drivers who aren’t willing to take regular breaks. While this is probably because their to-do list is packed with tasks and they are too busy to make time for a short break, skipping a break to stay productive is no longer a choice for many drivers. With the FMCSA’s 30-minute mandatory break regulation in place, taking short breaks while driving is now required by law.
What is the 30-Minute Break Rule?
Back in 2011, the FMCSA took certain measures to prevent tired drivers from hitting the road by making a few changes to the “FMCSA Hours of Service” rules. These changes included the addition of a mandatory 30-minute break. According to this rule, a property-carrying driver is required to take rest breaks of 30 minutes after every 8 hours of on-duty time. This was done to make sure drivers stay alert while driving.
How Does This Affect Your Fleet?
As a fleet operator, your job is to ensure that your drivers follow all the rules, which means taking the mandatory 30-minute break when necessary. However, this FMCSA regulation shouldn’t be treated as an inconvenient law; it should be considered an opportunity for your long-haul drivers to relax, rest, and rejuvenate. In fact, 30-minute rest breaks can make your fleet more efficient and productive.
- Breaks will keep your drivers from getting bored. The human brain doesn’t focus too well when used for an extended period of times. If drivers keep doing the same thing, like driving for too long, they can easily grow bored and tired. These 30-minute rest breaks will serve to break up the monotony of driving, refresh your drivers’ minds, and help them focus on their driving.
- Breaks improve the memory. Driving requires a lot of focus and concentration, and it’s nearly impossible for the brain to stay in an “ON” state all the time. A long-haul driver has to keep many things in mind, so to make sure he/she retains all the necessary information and instructions, breaks are essential.
- Breaks help drivers reach their goals. If you are working on something continuously, you will probably lose focus and start feeling lost. The same goes for the over-the-road truckers in your fleet too. Short 30-minute breaks can help them think clearly and stay mindful of their goals. Having breaks will also help keep drivers motivated to accomplish their professional goals since they’re less likely to get burned out.
Not only are there benefits to mandatory work breaks, but even short breaks can have significant health benefits. Below are some suggestions for how truck drivers can take advantage of their 30-minute breaks to stay on top of their health.
Staying Healthy On the Road
Staying healthy on the road is a big challenge for long-haul truckers. Fortunately, following these simple tips will help your fleet drivers stay healthy and fit.
- Get regular exercise. Your drivers don’t need a gym or expensive equipment to exercise. Doing a few squats and taking some laps around the truck during the 30-minute period required by the FMCSA regulation is a great way to become a healthy trucker.
- Prepare healthy meals. Junk food and canned meals that line the shelves in truck stops are a strict NO for drivers who want to stay healthy. Truckers can take advantage of the downtime during their 30-minute break by preparing a freshly cooked meal in their vehicles by using a portable grill or a slow cooker. Truckers can also pack healthy snacks, such as dried fruit and nuts, as provisions for when they’re hungry on the road. Having some healthy snacks will also help drivers avoid snacking or reaching for the tempting junk food on the market shelves.
- Refresh the mind. The job of an over-the-road trucker can be monotonous. You can suggest that, during the 30-minute breaks, your fleet drivers read an interesting book and listen to music or audio books. Taking a quick nap, meditating, or taking a walk outside in nature are also some great ways for truckers to press the refresh button. By doing something that’s interesting, the drivers will feel relaxed, and be able to stay focused on their task.
There are plenty of ways to spend these well-deserved 30-minute breaks. Start educating your fleet today and pass these valuable tips on to your long-haul drivers.
How Can Drivers Prove They Took Breaks?
It is important for both the driver and the company to demonstrate that they are following the FMCSA hours of service regulations. The following will help the drivers prove that they took breaks.
- The drivers must maintain a daily log and record the details of their day-to-day activities clearly including the mandatory 30-minute breaks.
- Drivers can also use electronic logs, such as ELDs and mobile apps. These tools automatically determine if the driver is driving or taking a break and stores the data for later review.
Taking regular 30-minute breaks is a great way for the drivers in your fleet to rest and refresh their body and mind. Start encouraging your drivers now and motivate them to get the most out of these 30-minute breaks.