ATA: Safety figures show current hours rules work

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Representatives from affiliates and member companies of the American Trucking Associations and other trucking industry speakers on Thursday, Jan. 28, told the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that statistics show that safety has improved under the current hours-of-service rules.

Brenda Neville, president of the Iowa Motor Truck Association, an ATA affiliate, was the first speaker at the FMCSA listening session held in Davenport, Iowa, the last of four scheduled across the country as FMCSA again considers HOS changes requested by the Teamsters and safety advocacy groups.

In her remarks on behalf of IMTA, the Illinois Trucking Association and ATA, Neville told the FMCSA that the current rules are working and most should be retained. “The truck-involved fatality rate has reached an all-time low under the current hours-of-servics rules,” said Neville “These are good rules that allow drivers to gain quality rest.”

The most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation indicate that 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, the largest year-to-year drop ever and the fifth consecutive year the fatality rate has dropped. Persons injured in large truck crashes went from 44.4 per 100 million miles to 39.6, an 11 percent reduction. Since the new hours regulations took effect in 2005, the rate of persons injured in large truck crashes has dropped 25 percent, and the truck-involved fatality rate has dropped 22 percent. The fatality rate is at its lowest since DOT began keeping those records in 1975 and has dropped 66 percent since that time.

Neville asked FMCSA to enhance the rules by adding flexibility to the sleeper berth provision, which ATA believes would improve motor carrier safety and promote overall driver health by encouraging naps, shorter continuous driving periods and a more natural sleep approach. “Greater flexibility would also help reduce highway congestion and promote operational flexibility,” Neville said. “These important factors would have a positive impact beyond just the trucking industry.”

Neville also said that increasing the availability of safety rest area parking would improve safety for truck drivers and the motoring public as well. “If we are requiring drivers to abide by hours-of-service regulations, we need to make it possible for them to do so,” she said. “Drivers must have the ability to gain quality sleep without worry over the loss of life or property.”