With so many hours behind the wheel, New York truck drivers can be particularly susceptible to fatigue. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that in a study on truck crash causes, fatigue was a factor in 13% of the accidents.
Among the FMCSA’s recommendations to truckers to prevent fatigue are, naturally, to get enough sleep at night and to take naps. The FMCSA also imposes hours-of-service rules that limit the amount of driving a semitruck operator can do before getting some rest.
In spite of its warnings against drowsy driving, the FMCSA is now proposing to change the HOS regulations in a way that appears to lessen the required amount of rest a trucker may get.
The amendments introduced in August of 2019 give the truck drivers more flexibility to take breaks when it is convenient for them rather than at regularly scheduled intervals. For example, a trucker may take the required break during a time when a traffic incident prevents him or her from proceeding rather than after a prescribed number of hours.
For certain drivers whose daily trips generally allow them to return to their homes at the end of the workday, the proposed amendment would provide an exception to the 12-hour maximum on-duty period, allowing them to work 14-hour days and drive 172.6 miles rather than 115.08 miles that is the normal distance limit.
There are also proposed changes to the number of consecutive hours a truck driver must be off duty between driving window times. Although the number of hours of break time may not change significantly, they may be broken up into shorter periods under certain circumstances.
The public was given the opportunity to comment on the amendment. Whether the FMCSA will make the changes remains to be seen.