The FMCSA will conduct a study on excessive commuting by commercial drivers and consider how it may contribute to driver fatigue.
By the FMCSA standards, commuting to work that takes more than 150 minutes is considered “excessive.”
The agency is seeking the approval of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to do the study and subsequently ask for public comments on the proposed survey.
A notice on the survey was posted in the Federal Register on November 27.
The planned survey on CMV drivers’ commuting practices is meant to comply with Section 5515 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) of 2015. The section requires the FMCSA “to conduct a study on the safety effects of motor carrier operator commutes exceeding 150 minutes.”
The notice specifies that the survey, whose findings will be reported to Congress, will gather information on the:
- Prevalence of excessive driver commuting in the CMV industry.
- Number and percentage of drivers who commute.
- Distances traveled and time zones crossed.
- Time spent commuting.
- Transportation methods used.
The study will also look into the “impact of excessive commuting on safety and CMV driver fatigue, and the commuting practices of CMV drivers and policies of motor carriers.”
Driver Fatigue and Electronic Logging Devices
Driver fatigue is an important issue in the trucking industry. However, electronic logging devices can minimize this problem.
The ELD mandate and the use of ELDs ensure that drivers are not driving beyond their hours-of-service limit, which minimizes the risk of driver fatigue and drowsiness. According to estimates by the FMCSA, the final ELD rule would “save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles.”
The FMCSA pointed out in the notice that “in the past two decades, as the number of workers has increased, and the distance to affordable housing has also increased in most metropolitan areas, commuting times have increased in the United States.”
The agency cited the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, which showed that travel delays — because of traffic congestion — caused drivers to waste more than three billion gallons of fuel in addition to 42 extra hours on the road.
The FMCSA further said that long commuting times could negatively affect CMV drivers by compromising their off-duty time and their health (poor cardiovascular status and hypertension as a result of the lack of exercise or physical activities).
The ELD mandate is just around the corner. Carriers would need electronic logging devices to comply with the upcoming mandate.
Other than compliance, however, electronic logging devices will also decrease driver fatigue and increase road safety. Moreover, ELDs also have several other fleet management benefits, e.g., reduced paperwork, reduced administrative burden, minimizing fuel wastage, easier vehicle management, and increased efficiency.
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