FMCSA Finishes Hours-of-Service Study, Results Coming Soon
After Congress passes the new hours-of-service rules last year, they asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to complete a study of the rules’ restart provisions. The federal group was instructed to research the changes and effects that the controversial reset period would have on the operations, safety, health and fatigue of drivers. That study is now complete, and results are expected to be released perhaps as early as December.
In the aftermath of the new rules, the trucking industry and advocacy groups caused a public outcry against the ruling and demanded regulations be changed. As a result of that, in a ruling last December, Congress compelled the FMCSA make changes to the rules. Congress suspended the FMCSA;s ruling and now truckers are not required to have two consecutive periods of rest from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to restart their 60 hour/7 day or 70 hour/8 day work week. It also mandated that the 34-hour restart could be used more than once every seven days.
To ensure a thorough study, the FMSCA collected data from both small and large fleet sizes from two five month periods. Over 220 drivers participated in the research efforts, driving their normal routes and reporting back all pertinent information. They took the work schedules from drivers operating under the restart provisions in effect between July 1, 2013 and Dec. 15, 2014 (the controversial period), and compared those with drivers who operated under the rules as they had been prior to July 1, 2013. They collected about 3,000 driver duty cycles. The group compared “safety critical events” that included crashes, near-crashes, and crash-relevant conflicts. They also looked at the fatigue and alertness of drivers through testing, as well as their short-term health.
The study was just completed and the FMCSA is not giving out any initial findings. They hope to thoroughly analyze it and have a complete report ready for release by the end of this year. It will be reviewed by the DOT Office of Inspector General and then be submitted to Congress. Until the results are released, truckers can continue to work under the “restart rollback” rules, which is basically how it was before July 2013. It’s reported that the legislation Congress passed states that if the FMCSA is not able to prove their hours-of-service rules improved safety
during the period studied, drivers would be allowed to operate under the current, more flexible rules.