WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget for a survey about the amount of time a commercial vehicle operator should be allowed to commute to work.
The issue of commute time came to the forefront in June 2014 when Kevin Roper slammed into the rear of a limo carrying comedian Tracy Morgan.
The crash killed comedian James McNair and seriously injured Morgan and others. Morgan, a former “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live” star, suffered brain trauma, broken ribs and a broken leg.
A report by federal transportation safety investigators said Roper was driving 65 mph in the 60 seconds before he slammed into the limo van. The speed limit on that stretch of the turnpike is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph that night because of construction.
An NTSB investigation concluded in August that Roper hadn't slept in the 28 hours before the crash.
Roper lived in Georgia, but was based out of Delaware.
Officials said he spent a portion of the 28 hours commuting from Georgia to Delaware to pick up his load.
The FMCSA is proposing a survey to inquire about driver commuting practices to fulfill Section 5515 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, 2015 (FAST Act).
Section 5515 of the FAST Act requires FMCSA to conduct a study on the safety effects of motor carrier operator commutes exceeding 150 minutes.
The agency is proposing to receive comments on the proposal on or before January 26, 2018.
The survey would include the number and percentage of drivers who commute; the distances traveled, time zones crossed, time spent commuting, and methods of transportation used; research on the impact of excessive commuting on safety and CMV driver fatigue; and the commuting practices of CMV drivers and policies of motor carriers.
The administrator would submit a report to Congress containing the findings of the study.
The FMCSA said the survey would require a one-time response per commercial vehicle operator, with an estimated total of 500 respondents (250 each of freight drivers and passenger bus drivers).
In its request, the agency noted that in the past two decades, as the number of workers has increased and the distance to affordable housing has also increased in most metropolitan areas, commuting times have increased in the United States.
According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, travel delays because of traffic congestion caused drivers to waste more than 3 billion gallons of fuel and kept travelers stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours (42 hours per rush-hour commuter).
The FMCSA said the objective of the proposed survey would be to learn more about the following CMV driver characteristics:
The FMCSA said long commuting times can adversely affect CMV drivers in multiple ways.
The agency cited two examples.