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Current federal Hours of Service (HOS) rules, which govern the duration that a commercial driver can be on duty and behind the wheel, have played a role in improving highway safety. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) should modify the sleeper berth provision to allow for additional flexibility to further improve driver alertness, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) says.
Extensive federal data shows that trucking industry safety performance has improved substantially since 2004, when the basic framework for the current HOS regulations took effect. The most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation indicate that the truck-involved fatality rate declined 12.3 percent 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.
To better address the true causes of fatigue in transportation, the ATA says the FMCSA should focus its resources on:
• sleep disorder awareness, training and screening;
• promoting the use of fatigue risk management programs;
• evaluating the use of fatigue detection devices;
• increasing the availability of truck parking on important freight corridors, and;
• partnering with the trucking and shipping communities to develop an educational process that identifies for drivers the location of available truck parking.
ATA's comments are in response to questions posed to participants during the five public listening sessions held around the country as FMCSA again considers HOS changes requested by special interest groups.
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