Thursday, January 21, 2010

US Truck Drivers Use Safety Figures To Prove Hours Regulations Work

ATA Claim Reduced Accidents Prove Drivers Hours are Best Left Alone
Shipping News Feature

US – The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has used just released statistics from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to illustrate that the current hours of service for truck drivers involved in all areas of logistics were working well and should not be tampered with. The statement came at a “listening session” conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the body responsible for imposition and management of all road related safety matters.

The session was the first of four to be held this month and ATA representative Senior Vice President Dave Osiecki was the first speaker at the current hearing. He told those present that safety had improved since the hours of service rules were adopted in 2005. Apart from a relaxation of regulations with regard to the timing of naps taken in sleeper berths the rules were: “an effective and balanced approach to promote driver alertness,” noting that FMCSA had made adjustments that minimized the economic costs of the rules without compromising highway safety, driver health, or the industry’s productivity.

The ATA feels that to better address the true causes of fatigue in transportation, FMCSA should focus its resources on (1) sleep disorder awareness, training and screening, (2) promoting the use of Fatigue Risk Management Programs, (3) increasing the availability of truck parking on important freight corridors, and (4) partnering with the trucking and shipping communities to develop an educational process that identifies for drivers the location of available truck parking.

Together with previously released National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) data the FHWA figures show the truck-involved fatality rate in 2008 declined 12.3 percent 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 improved.

Since new Hours-of-Service regulations took effect in 2005, the truck-involved fatality rate has come down more than 20 percent and is at its lowest since the U.S. Department of Transportation began keeping those records in 1975. The fatality rate has declined more than 66 percent since 1975.

Persons injured in large truck crashes went from 44.4 per 100 million miles to 39.6, an 11 percent reduction. Injury rates are based on the FHWA’s figures that report VMT by truck increased in 2008 to 227.45 billion miles from 227.06 billion in 2007. During that same time, NHTSA reports that the actual number of truck-involved injuries fell from 101,000 to 90,000.

The ATA has its own highway safety agenda which can be viewed on their website. The remaining FMCSA January listening sessions will be at Dallas (22nd), Los Angeles (25th) and Davenport, Iowa (28th) and were prompted by lobbying from groups such as Public Citizen and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.