Current federal hours-of-service rules have played a role in improving highway safety, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration should modify the sleeper berth provision to allow for additional flexibility to further improve driver alertness, the American Trucking Associations said April 21 in comments submitted to FMCSA.
Extensive federal data shows that trucking industry safety performance has improved substantially since 2004, when the basic framework for the current HOS regulations took effect. The most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation indicate the truck-involved fatality rate declined 12.3 percent in 2008 to 1.86 per 100 million miles, from 2.12 per 100 million miles in 2007. This decline marks the largest year-to-year drop ever and the fifth consecutive year the fatality rate has dropped.
Persons injured in large truck crashes went from 44.4 per 100 million miles to 39.6, an 11 percent reduction. Since 2004, the number of large truck crash injuries per 100 million miles has dropped 25 percent, and the truck-involved fatality rate has declined 22 percent. The fatality rate has dropped 66 percent since DOT began keeping those records in 1975 and is now at its historical low.
ATA says FMCSA, to better address the true causes of fatigue in transportation, should focus its resources on sleep disorder awareness, training and screening; promoting the use of fatigue risk management programs; evaluating the use of fatigue detection devices; increasing the availability of truck parking on important freight corridors; and partnering with the trucking and shipping communities to develop an educational process that identifies for drivers the location of available truck parking.
ATA’s comments are in response to questions posed to participants during the five public listening sessions recently held across the country as FMCSA again considers HOS changes requested by special interest groups.
Affected tractors are equipped with an automated Eaton UltraShift Plus or Eaton Advantage Transmission with right hand stalk shifter. In the affected trucks, the display on the instrument panel can indicate “N” when the shifter is set into “D” or “R,” causing the truck not to move.