Representatives of affiliates and member companies of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) told the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) the latest safety figures help show the effectiveness of current hours-of-service (HOS) rules. These representatives also told FMCSA the rules can be improved with sleeper berth provision flexibility.
Bill Usher, president of ATA member company Usher Transport, was the first speaker at the FMCSA listening session, held at the recent Mid-America Truck Show in Louisville KY. This was the last of five scheduled around the nation as the FMCSA again considers HOS changes requested by special interest groups.
Usher said the trucking industry has seen a large decline in the truck-involved fatality rate since current HOS rules took effect. Continually improving safety figures illustrate the real-world benefits of the current rules, which are based on a decade of research and analysis.
The most recent figures from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) indicate the truck-involved fatality rate declined 12.3% 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% reduction. Since the new HOS regulations took effect in 2004, the rate of persons injured in large truck crashes has dropped 25% and the truck-involved fatality rate has dropped 22%. The fatality rate is at its lowest since the DOT began keeping those records in 1975 and has dropped 66% since then.
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 use of Fatigue Risk Management Programs; (3) increasing availability of truck parking on important freight corridors; and (4) partnering with trucking and shipping communities to develop processes to inform drivers of the location of available parking.