The final hours-of-service rules unveiled April 24 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) allow truckers too much time behind the wheel, according to the American Insurance Association (AIA).
David Snyder, AIA vice-president and general counsel, said the new rule tracks existing scientific data by giving drivers the opportunity to get up to 10 hours of sleep, but allows them to drive longer than the lobbying group believes it should.
"The rule ignores lots of equally high-quality research by allowing drivers to stay on the road for far too long at one stretch," Snyder said.
"Eleven hours of consecutive truck driving is excessively dangerous for all roadway users, not just the truckers themselves," Snyder said. "It is well-documented that the risk of being involved in a crash increases significantly after only eight or nine hours of continuous driving."
Snyder added that fatigue is reported as a major contributor to truck crashes, and that numerous studies have reportedly shown that fatigue is a factor in the majority of truck crashes. FMCSA estimates that the new rule will save 75 lives and prevent 1,320 crashes annually.
"Even accepting that estimate, it's far less than the human and financial costs that could have been saved with a stronger rule," added Snyder.
Because of its contents and lack of effective enforcement, Snyder said AIA believes the new rules are unlikely to help achieve the Dept. of Transportation's self-imposed objective of reducing truck crash fatalities by 50 percent in the near future.
"Unfortunately, this was a tremendous opportunity lost," Snyder said.
Drivers may not drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on-duty, following 10 hours off-duty. Similar to existing rules, drivers may not drive after being on-duty for 60 hours in a seven-consecutive-day period, or 70 hours in an eight-consecutive-day period. This on-duty cycle may be restarted whenever a driver takes at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty, according to FMCSA.
Rules for the driver’s daily log remain unchanged. Those drivers operating within a 100 air-mile radius of the their normal work location, who return to that location and are released from duty within 12 hours, will keep time cards as allowed under the current rules.