12/23/2010 10:40:00 AM
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Thursday issued its latest hours-of-service proposal, though the agency has yet to decide if truckers should be allowed 10 or 11 hours of daily driving time.
The proposal retains the 34-hour restart provision that allows drivers to restart their weekly clocks after 34 consecutive off-duty hours. However, FMCSA said the restart will have to include two consecutive off-duty periods from midnight to 6:00 a.m.
In addition, FMCSA said drivers will be allowed to use the restart only once during any seven-day period. As part of an earlier court settlement, FMCSA must publish a final rule by July 26.
â€œA fatigued driver has no place behind the wheel of a large commercial truck,â€� said
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. â€œWe are committed to an hours-of-service rule that will help create an environment where commercial truck drivers are rested, alert and focused on safety while on the job.â€�
FMCSA said it favors a 10-hour driving limit but would wait for public comment before making a final decision. The proposal will require truckers to complete all driving within a 14-hour workday and to complete all on-duty work-related activities within 13 hours to allow for at least a one-hour break.
The agency said other key provisions include the option of extending a driverâ€™s daily shift to 16 hours twice a week to accommodate for issues such as loading and unloading at terminals or ports, and allowing drivers to count some time spent parked in their trucks toward off-duty hours.
American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves said the proposed changes will be â€œenormously expensive for trucking and the economy.â€�
The proposal is â€œoverly complex, chock full of unnecessary restrictions on professional truck drivers and, at its core, would substantially reduce truckingâ€™s productivity,â€� he said in a statement.
FMCSA has correctly found in the past that requiring two nights of sleep would disrupt driversâ€™ circadian cycle and add to more daytime driving in congested periods, again increasing crashes, ATA said.
â€œThis proposal includes even more restrictions than what FMCSA previously consideredâ€� said Graves, and â€œas a result, we will be evaluating FMCSAâ€™s proposed costs and benefits very carefully.â€�
He said the trucking industryâ€™s safety performance under HOS rules in place since 2004 has been â€œremarkable,â€� adding that crash-related fatalities are down 33% from 2003 and that both fatality and injury crash rates are at their lowest level since the DOT began keeping records.
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