FMCSA May Consider a More Flexible Hours of Service Proposal

Posted on

Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers discuss a proposal for flexibility to hours of services in hopes of preventing drowsy truck drivers. Drowsy driving is a serious problem in the trucking industry due to long hours behind the wheel and tight deadlines imposed on drivers. A 12-month, split sleeper berth pilot program was created in order to collect safety information about drivers who split their sleeper berth time, rather than spend ten consecutive hours in the sleeper berth.

Due to the high cost of the pilot program, and the amount of data already available that supports a more flexible approach to the hours of service, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has decided not to proceed with the pilot program.

Currently, the FMCSA requires drivers to take an eight-hour break in the sleeper berth, plus two additional consecutive hours, which can be spent in the sleeper berth, off duty, or a combination of the two. The FMCSA received over 5,200 comments from truck drivers about how the hours of service should be spent.

Split Sleeper Berth Time

More than 5,000 of the responders were in favor of allowing truck drivers to split their sleeper berth times. In fact, the majority of responders voted for a 50/50 split.

After analyzing the responses, and considering existing data about drowsy driving, the agency decided to drop plans for the pilot program.

According to the director of safety policy at the American Trucking Association (ATA), the FMCSA’s decision to drop the pilot program was concerning. Data shows that most people need between seven and eight hours of sleep to feel well-rested, said the director, so the FMCSA will need to ensure that their new proposal is safe.

The ATA director did say that allowing for some degree of flexibility, including using the sleeper berth for rest periods, can have a positive impact on the industry.

Benefits of a Split Sleep Schedule

When it comes to avoiding drowsy driving, research shows that the total amount of sleep an individual gets in a 24-hour period of time is more important than the amount of sleep a person gets in one period, according to the FMCSA. In addition, laboratory studies sponsored by the FMCSA have demonstrated proven benefits of splitting sleep.

The vice president of research for the American Transportation Research Institute believes that there is a need for field testing on the subject, but the sleeper berth study was going to be extremely costly and time-consuming. He also believes that the FMCSA has collected enough data to justify their decision to drop the program.

There is sufficient evidence that shows the benefits of splitting up sleeper berth hours in a way that works for the driver. Hours-of-service proposals cannot follow a one-size-fits-all formula.

Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect the Rights of Truck Accident Victims

If you or someone you know has been seriously injured or killed in a truck accident involving a drowsy driver, you are urged to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will determine whether the truck driver was in violation of the hours-of-service regulations and was driving on too little sleep. Our experienced and dedicated legal team will secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries and ensure that your rights are protected. We will not stop fighting for you until justice has been served. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent truck accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.