A recent move by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to tighten several rules for commercial truckers' work schedules drew questions from Road Safe America as to why the limits for airline pilots, announced the day prior to the trucking rules, would differ for truck drivers.
"It seems to us that fatigue is fatigue is fatigue," said RSA president Steve Owings. "The new limits for pilots are 8 or 9 daily hours of flying, depending on the time of day the flight hours begin. By comparison, truck drivers don't have co-pilots, don't have auto-pilot and must stay especially alert whenever driving since they share the public thoroughfares with the motoring public."
According to a release, a related decision, currently working its way through the rule-making process, is a requirement that truck driving hours be tracked electronically, instead of being self reported on paper logs by the drivers as currently required.
"This rule will finally give the DOT accurate information about the real drive times occurring in the industry, which will be very helpful in fatigue analysis going forward," Owings noted.
"We congratulate President Barack Obama, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FMCSA administrator Anne Ferro for making progress toward putting public safety ahead of industry concerns for efficiency," said Owings. "However it's vital that the FMCSA 'cross the goal line' by reducing the daily drive time to 10 hours from 11, as originally proposed some months ago."
"The new 70-hour work week limit is a step in the right direction but it still allows 75 percent more hours than the average work week in America," said Owings. "What we really need is a reasonable pay methodology for US truck drivers. Truck drivers should not be paid by-the-mile, but instead receive a professional's wage for every hour worked, including overtime, whether their truck is moving or not. The good men and women who populate our nation's truck driving profession provide an economic backbone of services to all Americans. Currently though, there is no financial incentive not to work truck drivers to death, which is quite literally what is happening."