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FMCSA retains key HoS provisions

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has welcomed the Interim Final Rule on drivers' Hours-of...

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has welcomed the Interim Final Rule on drivers’ Hours-of-Service, which was issued today by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The rule retains the key components of the 2004 rule, which ATA has supported. ATA officials say that in just four years, that rule has led to significant decreases in the number of fatal large truck crashes, the fatal large truck crash rate, the number of injuries from truck-involved crashes, and the injury crash rate.

“FMCSA has made an important contribution to highway safety by keeping in force Hours-of-Service rules that have led to a reduction in deaths and injuries over the last several years,” said ATA president and CEO Bill Graves.

The new rule reflects the scientific research that shows that the comprehensive regulations in effect since 2004 (except for a change in sleeper berth regulations in October 2005) promote driver alertness and enhance highway safety.

Components of the rule include:

-Increasing from eight to 10 hours the minimum amount of time that drivers must be off-duty between shifts, providing a greater opportunity for seven to eight hours of sleep;
-Reducing the maximum daily on-duty time by one hour from 15 to 14 and eliminating the provision allowing this time be “tolled” by breaks;
-Providing a maximum 11-hour driving time per shift to complete runs safely;
-Promoting schedules nearer to a 24-hour circadian cycle; and
-Allowing for a minimum of 34 consecutive off-duty hours of rest, recovery and restart to eliminate potential sleep debt.

The FMCSA cited data collected by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute that showed there is no increase in crash risk in the 11th hour of driving. “Government and industry safety data and metrics clearly indicate that the current HoS rules are an improvement in truck safety over the pre-2004 rules,” said the ATA in a release.

The ATA release mentioned several statistics to support this claim. The release noted that the industry had seen a 4.7% drop in the number of truck-involved fatalities in 2006 (the largest percentage drop since 1992); the projected truck-involved fatality rate for 2006 is at its lowest since record-keeping began in 1975; the number of truck-involved-crash injuries decreased by almost 2,000 in 2005 and dropped another 8,000 in 2006; and the injury crash rate, another accepted metric, is also at its lowest point since DOT recordkeeping began.

The Interim Final Rule is an interim measure in effect while the agency collects additional data on the safety impact of the two challenged provisions. ATA will work with its members during the next stage of the HoS rulemaking process to document motor carriers’ safety experiences under the 11- and 34-hour provisions.

President Graves also noted that ATA continues to pursue other goals on its safety agenda, including a requirement for speed limiters on new trucks, a 65-mph national speed limit for all vehicles and increased use of seatbelts.

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