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FMCSA posts possible questions on HOS alternatives
Tuesday, 05 January 2010 00:00

WASHINGTON—In preparation for public listening sessions on Hours of Service, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has added a section to its Web site specifically targeting the listening sessions and discussion about possible changes to the current rule.

“In preparing comments for the FMCSA’s public listening sessions, meeting participants should consider the following questions about possible alternatives to the current HOS requirements,” a section of the Web site says. “The scenarios are merely set forth for discussion. The FMCSA will not necessarily include them in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), but would request similar information and data in an NPRM. Answers to these questions should be based upon the experience of the participants and any data or information they can share with the FMCSA.”

The questions are broken out in five categories...

A. Rest and On-Duty Time

1. Would mandatory short rest periods during the work day improve driver alertness in the operation of a CMV? How long should these rest periods be? At what point in the duty cycle or drive-time would short rest periods provide the greatest benefit? What are the unintended consequences if these short rest periods are mandatory? Should the on-duty period be extended to allow for mandatory rest periods?

2 .If rest or other breaks from driving improve alertness, could a driver who chooses to take specified minimum breaks be given scheduling flexibility—the ability to borrow an hour from another driving day once a week, for example—if that flexibility would not increase safety risks or adversely impact driver health?

3. How many hours per day and per week would be safe and healthy for a truck driver to work?

4. Would an HOS rule that allows drivers to drive an hour less when driving overnight improve driver alertness and improve safety? Are there any adverse consequences that could arise from the implementation of a separate night time HOS regulation?

B. Restart to the 60- and 70-Hour Rule

1. Is a 34-consecutive-hour off-duty period long enough to provide restorative sleep regardless of the number of hours worked prior to the restart? Is the answer different for a driver working a night or irregular schedule?

2. What would be the impact of mandating two overnight off-duty periods, e.g., from midnight to 6 a.m., as a component of a restart period? Would such a rule present additional enforcement challenges?

3. How is the current restart provision being used by drivers? Do drivers restart their calculations after 34 consecutive hours or do drivers take longer periods of time for the restart?

C. Sleeper Berth Use

1. If sleeper-berth time were split into two periods, what is the minimum time in each period necessary to provide restorative sleep?

2. Could the 14-hour on-duty limitation be extended by the amount of some additional sleeper-berth time without detrimental effect on highway safety? What would be the appropriate length of such a limited sleeper-berth rest period?

D. Loading and Unloading Time

1. What effect has the fixed 14-hour driving "window" had on the time drivers spend waiting to load or unload? Have shippers and receivers changed their practices to reduce the amount of time drivers spend waiting to load or unload?

E. General

1. Are there aspects of the current rule that do not increase safety risks or adversely impact driver health and that should be preserved?

TheTrucker.com, 1/5/2010