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U.S. Transportation Department Officials Meet with Truck, Bus Safety Stakeholders To Discuss Driver-Fatigue Safety Standard

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U.S. Transportation Department Officials Meet with Truck, Bus Safety Stakeholders To Discuss Driver-Fatigue Safety Standard

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
September 25, 2000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 25, 2000
Contact: Dave Longo
Telephone: 202-366-0456
FMCSA 18-00

U.S. Transportation Department officials met today with representatives from the truck and bus industries, labor unions and safety groups to focus collectively on revising the nation’s 60-year-old hours-of-service rule to help prevent truck and bus crashes involving fatigued drivers.

"In the interest of safety, we must revise and update this safety standard so that the number of people who die and are injured in fatigue-related truck and bus crashes decreases," U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater said. "With this goal in common, I am confident we can produce a rule that is good for America and that improves safety, which is President Clinton and Vice President Gore’s highest transportation priority."

The first of three two-day roundtables continues the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) ongoing commitment to involve all stakeholders in the rulemaking process which has included: issuing an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM); considering negotiated rulemaking; publishing the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM); holding extensive public listening sessions across the country; and extending the formal public comment period through Dec. 15, 2000. The roundtables are open to the public.

The remaining meetings will be Sept. 28-29 and Oct. 5-6 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meetings will address the following topics:

  • Sept. 25-26: The economic impact of revising the current hours-of-service safety standard, fatigue research and law enforcement;
  • Sept. 28-29: Sleeper berth requirements, communication during rest periods, end-of-work week rest periods, and hours of work permitted each day; and
  • Oct. 5-6: Categories of carrier operations, electronic on-board recorders, and exemptions.

    FMCSA Acting Deputy Administrator Clyde J. Hart Jr., who opened today’s meeting, said that FMCSA would not float new or compromise alternatives at the meetings but would be open to alternatives based on additional facts and material from stakeholders who may support or oppose provisions in the current proposal.

    There were 5,362 truck-related fatalities in 1999. About 800 truck-related fatalities each year are fatigue-related. The proposed rule would prevent an estimated 2,600 crashes, 115 fatalities and 2,995 serious injuries annually.

    The Department, on April 25, 2000, proposed to improve highway safety by changing the current hours-of-service rule, which regulates the number of hours drivers of big trucks and buses can operate without resting. The current rule permits drivers to be behind the wheel for 10 hours and then rest for 8, which means they can drive for 16 hours out in a 24-hour day. The proposed rule would limit the number of hours to 12 in a 24-hour period.

    This rule was written in 1935, modified in 1937 and revised in 1962 by the former Interstate Commerce Commission. According to the FMCSA, little has been done to update it since. In the meantime, the number of trucks and the vehicle miles they travel have soared.

    Comments on the April 25 proposal should be sent by Dec. 15 to the USDOT Docket Facility, Attn: Docket FMCSA-97-2350, 400 Seventh St., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590. The proposal and comments may be viewed on the Internet after searching at http://dms.dot.gov/. Comments also may be submitted electronically at this site. Transcripts of the roundtables will also be made available in the docket.

    The FMCSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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