LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Representatives of affiliates and member companies of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) told the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) here Friday that the latest safety figures help to show the effectiveness of the current Hours of Service (HOS) rules. These representatives also told FMCSA that the rules can be improved with flexibility in the sleeper berth provision.
Bill Usher, President of Usher Transport, an ATA member company, was the first speaker today at the FMCSA listening session, held at the Mid-America Truck Show in Louisville. This was the last of five scheduled around the country as the FMCSA again considers HOS changes requested by special interest groups.
Usher said that the trucking industry has seen a large decline in the truck-involved fatality rate since the current HOS rules took effect. The continually improving safety figures illustrate the real-world benefits of the current rules, which are based on a decade of extensive research and analysis.
The most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) indicate that 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 the new HOS regulations took effect in 2004, the rate of persons injured in large truck crashes has dropped 25 percent and the truck-involved fatality rate has dropped 22 percent. The fatality rate is at its lowest since the DOT began keeping those records in 1975 and has dropped 66 percent since that time.
Kentucky Motor Transport Association President Jamie Fiepke and America’s Road Team Captain Steve Fields, a professional truck driver who has driven more than 2.5 million crash-free miles, also spoke. An over-the-road driver for YRC in Kansas City, Mo., Fields will tell FMCSA that the current HOS rules are working well, except for the sleeper berth rules, which must be revised. Professional drivers need flexibility when sleeping in the cab because their body clocks often differ from the rules.
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 the use of Fatigue Risk Management Programs; (3) increasing the availability of truck parking on important freight corridors; and (4) partnering with the trucking and shipping communities to develop processes to inform drivers of the location of available parking.
Dorothy Cox of The Trucker staff may be contacted to comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.