Turn Signals – Issue 71

Responding to longtime urging by the trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is requesting public input to various possible changes in the driver hours-of-service regulations. Since 2004, with few exceptions, interstate drivers have been hamstrung with a 14-hour clock during which all driving must be performed. That same year the split sleep berth option for long-haul drivers to manage fatigue and deal with shipper delays was also prohibited. With the implementation of ELDs and the dramatic decrease in logging violations found during highway inspections, FMCSA is signally a willingness to review modifications to the rules.

What could be some possible changes to the HOS regulations? Here are the most significant ideas that the agency is interested in receiving public comments: (1) Increase the short-haul “no logbook” exception from 12 hours daily to 14 hours, (2) Eliminate the 30-minute break required by the 8th on-duty hour, (3) Reestablish the split sleep berth time for required rest, (4) Allow up to a 3-hour break each work day that would extend the 14-hour clock by the same amount of time, and (5) Allow all off-duty/sleeper-berth breaks to extend the 14-hour clock. It is unlikely that the agency would approve all of these proposals, and there will certainly be pushback from highway safety organizations.

The American Transportation Research Institute released an update of its Crash Predictor Model identifying which driver behaviors relate significantly to having future accidents. At the top of the list is a reckless driving conviction. For those drivers the likelihood of a future crash increased by 114%. Other predictors include failure to yield right of way (101%), failure to stay in the proper lane (83%), failure to use a signal (82%), and having a previous crash (74%) The study also showed men were 20% more likely to be in a crash than women. Also of interest, drivers aged 20 to 29 are more likely to have convictions for speeding 15 mph over the speed limit than other age groups.

The board of directors of the Unified Carrier Registration announced the annual fees for interstate truckers in 2019 and 2020. All companies will have a reduction from the 2018 charges, which in 2019 will be a 17.6% reduction from what was being charged in 2017. While the fees will increase in 2020 to close to the 2018 charges, that will still be a 9.5% decrease from 2017. There is a statutory maximum that the UCR can collect, and the reductions have been caused by excess revenues received in 2017. A fleet of 21-100 truckers pays this amount: $1,431 (2018), $1,299 (2019), and $1,427 (2020).

State enforcement agencies were directed by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to inspect all trailer rear impact guards for one day. Each state could pick a day from August 27-31. A report will be issued in September reviewing the overall condition of the under-guards and if they should be added to CVSA’s out-of-service criteria.

Did you know…. A survey conducted by TruckerPath of 5,400 drivers shows their top cause of stress is finding safe parking. The drivers say the use of ELDs has increased this stress. 96% of the respondents also admit to having to park in unauthorized locations.

Published by Nicholas Wingerter and TRUCK SAFETY
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