Since the 2011 Hours of Service rules were first announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in December 2011, the trucking industry has launched annual attacks trying to weaken these regulations. That same year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also announced comprehensive changes to rules governing pilot scheduling. Interestingly, there was much less push back from those in the aviation industry to limit the amount of hours a pilot can work.
The FAA rule changes are based on scientific research and data regarding circadian rhythms. The FAA also limited flight time – when the plane is moving under its own power before, during, or after flight – to 8 or 9 hours depending on the start time of the pilot’s entire flight duty period. Additionally, the rule addresses potential cumulative fatigue by placing weekly and 28-day limits on the amount of time a pilot may be assigned to any type of flight duty.
As a result of the FAA’s updates, commercial pilots seldom experience a 14-hour workday, which is not the case for many truckers. Given that the odds of dying in a traffic accident is 1 in 14,000, while there is only a 1 in 4.7 million chance of dying on a commercial flight, it is surprising that more people do not share our sense of urgency in needing to address the amount of hours truckers can work daily, weekly, and monthly.
It is unfortunate that there has been so much pushback from the trucking industry to embrace much-needed regulations that will prevent fatigue-related truck crash deaths and injuries. TSC will continue to defend HOS rules to ensure that truck drivers are adequately rested so that driving a truck becomes as safe as flying a plane.
The Truck Safety Coalition Team