The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is currently reviewing the hours-of-service rules that were established in 1995 by the defunct Interstate Commerce Commission. FHWA has made it clear that they are assessing the regulations based on motor carrier efficiency and productivity as well as safety of motor carriers.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety agrees that regulations need to be re-assessed based on current research, but the Institute points out that evidence shows that the regulations should be strengthened, not weakened or replaced. (IIHS)
Here are some issues that the FHWA needs to consider:
- Research shows that long hours raise the risk of accidents and crashes. How will hours-of-service regulations help drivers stay safe while considering economic vitality and productivity of the motor carrier industry?
- Research also shows that truckers need more rest. FHWA needs to consider if they should increase mandatory rest periods for interstate drivers from 8 hours to a longer period, such as 12-14 hours.
- Technology has been shown to be useful for tracking driver alertness. But some experts say that the devices have not been adequately tested and are not a substitute for strong regulations.
- Does “one-size-fit-all” when it comes to hour-of-service regulations?
- Should the U.S. implement fatigue management plans?
- Should medium-sized trucks (between 10,001 and 26,000 pounds) be exempt from logbook regulations?
It is clear that there are different opinions and viewpoints as they relate to hours-of-service regulation, leading to a wide chasm between the trucking industry and safety groups. Trucking groups want federal regulations to be relaxed; safety groups advocating a tightening of the hours-of-service regulations because fatigue is a major problem that leads to driver and public safety issues.
Even though there are many areas of disagreement, one area in which the trucking industry and safety groups agree is that there is a need for longer periods of rest for drivers to enable them to get 7-8 hours of sleep per day.