The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced it will hold a public listening session on its regulatory proposal that would revise hours-of-service (HOS) requirements for commercial truck drivers on February 17, 2011 in Arlington, Virginia. The agency will also webcast the session live with a forum on its website for comments and questions in order to maximize public participation.
The proposed HOS changes have widened a rift between the trucking industry, which asserts the proposed changes would restrict business excessively in already economically challenging times, and safety advocates who say the changes don’t go far enough in reducing driver fatigue. According to Transportation Department records, driver fatigue accounts for up to 40 percent of all commercial vehicle crashes.
The FMCSA’s goal in hosting the listening session is to gather a broad range of comments, ideas, and relevant data in response to the HOS regulatory changes it proposed on December 23. HOS requirements are designed to help prevent commercial vehicle-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities by prescribing on-duty hours and rest periods for commercial drivers. The work limits are intended to reduce driver fatigue by preventing commercial truck and bus drivers from spending excessively long hours behind the wheel in the course of a day and week.
The FMCSA is holding the public session in response to requests from rule-change opponents. For instance, the Hours of Service Coalition — a group that includes American Trucking Associations, a number of trucking companies and construction, agriculture, manufacturing, and distribution trade groups, sent a letter Jan. 20 asking the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders to hold a hearing about the proposed changes before the public comment period officially closes on Feb. 28.
The hearing will be held at the Crowne Plaza Washington National Airport hotel at 1480 Crystal Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22202. The live webcast may be viewed by going to www.fmcsa.dot.gov. The session will last from 12 noon until 12 midnight EST.