Results of the Minnesota fatigue checklist blowback

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Previously in this series: Minnesota aims at moving targets

Minnesota’s use of a fatigue checklist was an attempt to beef up enforcement of the federal code’s 392.3 prohibition on operating a truck while ill or fatigued. The checklist was deemed a violation of truckers’ Fourth Amendment rights in part due to the intrusive nature of its questions after an Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association lawsuit was decided in 2011.

Since then, as operators interviewed for the principal story in this series note, such intrusive aspects of roadside stops there seem to have fallen by the wayside. Considered nationally, 392.3 violations issued appear to have reverted since that time to how they were intended to be used, according to regulators and industry watchers: cases where illness or fatigue is so extreme to any objective observer that they warrant an out-of-service order.

Graph depicting national violations of ill/fatigued operator regulation between 2011 and 2017

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and OOIDA in 2014 petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to modify the 392.3 regulation itself to offer “more clarity and objectivity as to what is considered to be a fatigued condition, such that the driver cannot safely perform the driving task,” CVSA says.

Two years later, FMCSA denied the petition, even as CVSA adopted new clarified guidance on enforcement of out-of-service orders associated with it. According to Overdrive reporting on the 2015 guidance, “A violation of the rule should only be issued when fatigue is so obvious and severe that it rises to the levels of necessitating an out-of-service order.” That would mean situations, said Western States Trucking Association representative Joe Rajkovacz at the time, such as where a driver “can barely stand up” or “falls asleep in the squad car.”

Enforcement of the regulation has been rising a bit in recent years but remains low relative to the high rates of 2011-12.

Next in this series: The 15 toughest states when it comes to moving violations

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