U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Contact: Andy Beck, 202-366-8810
Trucker Calls Focused on Compliance
New Hours-of-Service Feedback Largely Positive, Focused on Details
An initial review released today shows that truckers contacting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are committed to following new hours-of-service rules, but still have questions about changes made to the 60-year old regulations. The review is based on thousands of calls from commercial drivers made to the FMCSA's 24-hour, toll-free help line established to answer questions about the new hours-of-service rule implemented Jan. 4.
Help line personnel have answered almost 5,500 calls from truckers wanting to understand the new rule. Initial call tracking reports indicate the majority of questions asked concern the sleeper-berth exemption, the 34-hour restart provision, the definition of a 14-hour workday, and procedures for recording hours in driver logbooks.
"Despite some dramatic predictions about the impact of the new rules, drivers are telling us they are working to comply," said FMCSA Administrator Annette M. Sandberg. "We're hearing thoughtful questions and witnessing a sincere desire to follow the new regulations."
The largest number of calls, 18 percent, concern the 34-hour restart period. Another 16 percent of callers want to know more about the sleeper berth provision. Nine percent have asked about the 60/70-hour workweek change. Likewise, five percent were calling about record keeping. The remaining calls vary widely, including questions specific to unique driving scenarios, questions on the difference between drive time and duty time, and inquiries into the use of electronic on-board recorders. FMCSA personnel answering the phones say that most calls are drivers trying to comply with the new rule. Anecdotal reports show that drivers are finding the new rules are not causing the types of problems predicted by some.
The toll-free telephone line, 1-800-598-5664, is staffed around the clock to answer drivers' questions. The line became active on Dec. 29, 2003.
It is estimated that the new hours-of-service rule will save 75 lives, prevent 1,326 fatigue-related injuries, and prevent 6,900 property damage-only crashes annually, saving the American economy $628 million a year. The rule represents the first major rewrite of the hours-of-service regulations in more than 60 years.
The cause of driver fatigue is the length of a driver's workday, not just the amount of time he or she spends on the road, according to Sandberg. "That's why DOT's new hours-of-service rule reduces a driver's workday by an hour and requires it to be consecutive, while allowing more of that time to be spent on the road, where most drivers earn their living," she said.
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