The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA announced in early 2018 that it will survey tractor trailer drivers about how long they spend commuting to and from work in their personal vehicles or in their rig off the clock to determine how often their commutes exceed 2.5 hours per day. The FMCSA also reported it will study what the possible ramifications are for excessive commuting on driver fatigue and safety.
FMCSA this month filed a requires with the Office of Management and Budget at the White House to do the survey. If the request is cleared by the OMB, the agency will release a notice asking truck drivers to complete the survey. The FMCSA says that it wants at least 500 drivers to complete the survey. The agency reports it will look for driver feedback on work history, time for commuting each day, driver schedule, rest breaks and annual miles driven.
There has been growing concern about excessive commute times by truck drivers after a high profile tractor trailer crash in 2014 on the New Jersey Turnpike. That crash killed a comedian and seriously injured actor and comedian Tracy Morgan. The truck driver in the case fell asleep behind the wheel before he hit Morgan’s van from the rear at high speed in June 2014. It was reported the trucker had commuted 800 miles from Georgia to Delaware the morning before he started his driving shift for Walmart. The NTSB has stated that driver fatigue was a major factor in the crash.
It was reported that the big rig driver had slept merely four hours in the 33 hours before the wreck. But he was within his hours of service limits before the fatal truck crash.
The FMCSA stated in its OMB request that long truck driver commutes are compromising off duty time and can lead to excessive driver fatigue for truck drivers, even when they are within their hours of service limits.
Our truck accident personal injury attorneys support the FMCSA study mentioned in this article. It is our hope that getting a better understanding of the driving habits of truck drivers outside of their work shifts will shed light on how to prevent serious truck crashes due to driver fatigue. It is concerning that a truck driver currently can commute for hours in the day before their work shift, and still be within their hours of service limits. This loophole in the law was a factor in a serious truck crash that killed one and seriously injured another. Serious truck crashes lead to serious injury, death and expensive personal injury lawsuits. We hope we see fewer of these deadly crashes caused by driver fatigue in the future.