The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking comment on a proposed survey of “excessive commuting” by truck drivers. The agency is defining as excessive any commuting to work that exceeds 150 minutes.
The survey would focus on the prevalence of such commuting in a commercial motor vehicle; the number and percentage of CMV drivers who commute; the distances they travel and the time zones they cross; the impact of such commuting on safety and fatigue; and existing commuting policies of motor carriers.
In its notice on the survey, published in the Federal Register for Nov. 27, the agency said it is inquiring about trucker commuting practices to fulfill Section 5515 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. That section of the 2015 highway bill requires FMCSA to conduct a study on the safety effects of commutes by motor carrier operators that exceed 150 minutes. The FMCSA administrator is then required to submit a report to Congress on the findings of the study.
Providing some background context, FMCSA also stated 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 went on to say that long commuting times can adversely affect CMV drivers “in multiple ways,” including:
- Compromising off-duty time. “Long commuting times can reduce a driver’s available off-duty time for sleep and personal activities. This can lead to excessive fatigue while on duty, creating safety concerns for both the CMV driver and other drivers on the roads.”
- Impacting driver health. “A recent study was conducted that monitored 4,297 adults from 12 metropolitan Texas counties. In this region, 90% of people commute to work. The study found that the drivers who have long commuting times were more likely to have poor cardiovascular health and be less physically fit. This study showed that people who commute long distances to work weigh more, are less physically active, and have higher blood pressure.”
Although it is not mentioned in the FMCSA notice on the survey, it is generally understood that the FAST Act provision calling for the survey was written in response to circumstances related to the June 2014 crash of a Walmart truck into a limo van that killed comedian James McNair and seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan.
A subsequent investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the truck driver’s fatigue played a role in the accident. Walmart driver Kevin Roper was on hour 13 of a 14-hour shift, but he had driven for 12 hours from his home in Georgia to Delaware to start his route. Roper was indicted for charges of manslaughter, vehicular homicide and aggravated assault.
Comments on the proposed survey must be received on or before Jan. 26, 2018. Click here for more information, including how to submit comments to the docket.