Life On The Road
ATA supports interim HOS rule
The American Trucking Associations recently testified before a Senate Subcommittee that it supports the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Interim Final Rule on drivers’ Hours of Service. The interim rule retains key components of the 2004 truck driver work and rest rules, which have contributed to improved safety on the nation’s highways.
ATA Vice President of Safety, Security and Operations Dave Osiecki testified that in just four years, the current rules have contributed to significant decreases in the number of fatal large truck crashes, the fatal large truck crash rate, the number of injuries from truck-involved crashes and the injury crash rate. Osiecki testified before the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Merchant Marine Safety, and Security and Infrastructure of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
Osiecki said the current HOS rules represented a “balanced set of rules” that promote driver alertness through natural work and rest cycles while providing the industry with operational flexibility. “ATA supports the new hours of service rules because they are working,” Osiecki said.
In its Interim Final Rule, the FMCSA cited data collected by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute that showed there is no increase in crash risk in the 11th hour of driving. Government and industry safety data and metrics clearly indicate that the current HOS rules are an improvement in truck safety over the pre-2004 rules. For example:
• The projected truck-involved fatal crash rate for 2006 is 1.94 fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle miles of travel. This is its lowest point since the U.S. Department of Transportation began keeping these records in 1975.
• The number of truck-involved fatalities decreased 4.7 percent in 2006—from 5,240 in 2005 to 4,995 in 2006—the largest percentage drop in truck-involved fatalities since 1992.
• The number of truck-involved crash injuries decreased by almost 2,000 in 2005 and another 8,000 in 2006.
• The injury crash rate, another accepted metric, is also at its lowest point since DOT record-keeping began.
According to the ATA, the rule that remains in effect reflects scientific research that shows that the comprehensive regulations in effect since 2004 (except for a change in sleeper berth regulations in October 2005) promote driver alertness and enhance highway safety. Components of the rule include:
• Increasing from eight to 10 hours the minimum amount of time that drivers must be off-duty between shifts, allowing a greater chance for seven to eight hours of sleep.
• Reducing the maximum daily on-duty time by one hour from 15 to 14 and eliminating the provision allowing this time be “tolled” by breaks.
• Providing a maximum 11-hour driving time per shift to complete runs safely.
• Promoting schedules nearer to a 24-hour circadian cycle.
• Allowing for a minimum of 34 consecutive off-duty hours of rest, recovery and restart to eliminate potential sleep debt.