Saturday, March 17, 2018

OOIDA requests safer, more flexible HOS for truck drivers

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says that as part of returning a flexible sleeper berth rule, the current 30-minute rest break should be eliminated.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says that as part of returning a flexible sleeper berth rule, the current 30-minute rest break should be eliminated.

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to amend the existing federal Hours of Service regulations.

“We think it’s time to seriously address the issue of lack of options available for truck drivers whose schedules are at the mercy of shippers, receivers, weather, congestion and other obstacles, to operate safely,” said Todd Spencer, acting president and CEO of OOIDA.

“We are in a situation where we have never had more regulations and greater enforcement and compliance with those regulations.  Yet, crash numbers are going in the wrong direction, it’s time for a new approach,” Spencer said.

OOIDA has sent a petition to FMCSA requesting changes to HOS regulations, asking that truck drivers subject to HOS regulations be allowed to take a rest break once per 14-hour duty period for up to three consecutive hours as long as the driver is off-duty.

This rest break would effectively stop the 14-hour clock.

However, drivers would still need to log 10 consecutive hours off-duty before the start of their next work shift. The association also recommends eliminating the existing 30-minute rest break requirement. 

“There are many operational situations where the 30-minute rest break requires drivers to stop when they simply do not need to,” said Spencer, because “it’s either impractical or unsafe.”

The association pointed out that current regulations are overly complex, provide no flexibility, and in no way reflect the physical capabilities or limitations of individual drivers. 

“They force drivers to be on the road when they are tired or fatigued, during busy travel times and adverse weather and road conditions, or when they simply aren’t feeling well,” Spencer said.  In short, OOIDA said the association and its members view current HOS regulations as forcing truckers to comply with a regulatory framework that jeopardizes their safety and the safety of the motoring public.   

“If DOT truly wants to improve highway safety, it should consider amending the existing HOS regulations to foster safe habits rather than prevent them,” Spencer said. “No one on the road today cares more about highway safety than career, professional truck drivers.”

The FMCSA will begin a pilot project this summer concerning the current sleeper berth rule, which requires eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth before a driver can begin a new 14-hour clock.

Called the “Flexible Sleeper Berth Pilot Program,” it is a field operational test allowing regulatory flexibility in the HOS provisions.

With the pilot program, FMCSA hopes to determine whether the eight-consecutive hour rule should be modified to allow drivers to split the eight hours.

time in the sleeper berth.

At a minimum, FMCSA said it is proposing to gather the following data during the study:

  • Electronic logging device (ELD) data, to evaluate duty hours and timing, driving hours and timing, rest breaks, off-duty time, and restart breaks
  • Onboard monitoring system (OBMS) data, to evaluate driving behaviors, safety-critical events (or SCEs, which include crashes, near-crashes, and other safety-related events), reaction time, fatigue, lane deviations, as well as traffic density, road curvature and speed variability
  • Roadside violation data (from carriers and drivers), including vehicle, duty status, hazardous materials, and cargo-related violations (contingent upon inspections)
  • Wrist actigraphy data to evaluate total sleep time, time of day sleep was taken, sleep latency, and intermittent wakefulness
  • Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT) data, to evaluate drivers' behavioral alertness based on reaction times
  • Subjective sleepiness ratings, using the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS) to measure drivers' perceptions of their fatigue levels, and
  • Sleep logs, in which drivers will document when they are going to sleep, when they wake up, and whether they are using the sleeper berth. For split-sleep days, drivers will record how and why they chose to split their sleep.

Data collection for the pilot program will end in the summer of 2019.

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