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Truckers defend US hours-of-service in latest FMCSA listening session

DALLAS, Texas -- In its second listening session on US hours-of-service, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety...

DALLAS, Texas — In its second listening session on US hours-of-service, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Adminstration (FMCSA) heard from a strong contingent of US truckers and carriers on Friday who claim the current rules are working, but would benefit from added flexibility.


Among the presenters was America’s Road Team Captain Ralph Garcia, a professional driver with more than 2.5 million accident-free miles. He said he’s in favour of keeping the current rules, but would like to see the FMCSA change the sleeper berth provision.


“When the current rules took effect, I noticed that I started feeling better,” said Garcia. “I wasn’t as tired.” However, he added “sleeper berth provisions make it difficult for drivers, who prefer more flexibility with their rest.”


“Various aspects of the existing rules – including the 11-hour driving time, 10-hour off-duty time as well as the 34- and 24-hour restart for different industry segments – are likely to be at least partly responsible for the decline in fatalities,” said John Esparza, president of the Texas Motor Transport Association, when explaining a decline in truck-involved fatalities. “These restarts provide drivers with the ability to gain quality rest.”


The American Trucking Associations is suggesting the FMCSA keep the existing rules while adding flexibility to the sleeper berth provision. It also suggests the FMCSA focus its efforts on: better sleep disorder awareness and training; promoting the use of Fatigue Risk Management Programs; increase the availability of truck parking on important freight corridors; and to partner with the trucking and shipping communities to develop an educational process that will help drivers identify the locations of available truck parking.


The FMCSA will host another listening session today in Los Angeles and then Jan. 28 in Davenport, Iowa.

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