Current federal hours-of-service (HOS) rules, which govern the durations that a commercial driver can be on duty and behind the wheel, have played a role in improving highway safety. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) should modify the sleeper berth provision to allow for additional flexibility to further improve driver alertness, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) said in comments submitted to FMCSA.
Federal data shows 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 US Department of Transportation (DOT) indicate that the truck-involved fatality rate declined 12.3% 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% reduction. Since 2004, the number of large truck crash injuries per 100 million miles has dropped 25% and the truck-involved fatality rate has dropped 22%. The fatality rate has dropped 66% since the DOT began keeping those records in 1975.
To better address the true causes of fatigue in transportation, FMCSA should focus its resources on:
(1) Sleep disorder awareness, training, and screening.
(2) Promoting use of fatigue risk management programs.
(3) Evaluating the use of fatigue detection devices.
(4) Increasing the availability of truck parking on important freight corridors.
(5) Partnering with the trucking and shipping communities to develop an educational process that identifies for drivers the location of available truck parking.