After months of complaints, the Transportation Department is moving to relax federal regulations on the number of hours truckers can be behind the wheel. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration tells 10Investigates that it received more than 5,000 public comments asking for flexibility for truck drivers’ hours of service, and the proposal balances that with maintaining safety on our nation’s roads.

Current regulations limit long-haul truckers to 11 hours of driving time within a 14-hour on-duty window. They must take 10 consecutive hours off-duty before the on-duty clock starts anew. A driver who is going to be driving for more than eight hours must take a 30-minute break before hitting the eight-hour mark.

Motor carriers and truck drivers have lobbied for revisions, but highway safety advocates say the contemplated changes would weaken the regulations, leading to driver fatigue and make roads more dangerous.

The NTSB has declared fatigue a "pervasive problem."

Related: Semi-Safe: Other drivers often pay the price in deadly large truck crashes

Shawn Davis is the director of the Tampa Truck Driving School.  He says he’s seen truck drivers push to make their deliveries to get paid.  Davis says allowing drivers to stop and start their clocks will lead to safer driving because they have flexibility.

“Long distance does take time, does take hours -- and having the flexibility on when they feel they're tired and still get their hours done and still make money is very important because let them decide when they can, you know, drive and when they can't. They need to take a break, they can take a break; but it's not going to hurt them to the point where now their clock is ruined for the entire day,” Davis said.

Earlier this year 10Investigates dug deep into the concerns of truck safety on the roads. Our investigation revealed truck crashes in the state of Florida have increased by nearly 9,000 from 2014 to 2018.

A federal law did go into effect in December requiring truck drivers to have a digital log for driving hours. One of the safety concerns associated with those digital logs is drivers feeling the need to speed to make up miles lost since most truck drivers' pay is based on mileage, not hours worked.

Right now, the White House is reviewing the proposed change to “hours of service.”

Editor's Note: 10Investigates has reported extensively on how other drivers often pay the price in deadly large truck crashes. Click here to read our reporting.

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