Letter to the Editor: FMCSA Says Article Based on Speculation, Not Fact

September 28, 2005

The following letter is from FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg in response to a recent Insurance Journal article on the new Federal hours-of-service rule for truck drivers:

To the editor:

“It is unfortunate that your article, ‘AIA Disturbed by New Federal Motor Carrier Rules’ (Aug. 25), about the Federal government’s new hours-of-service (HOS) rule for truck drivers was based on speculation rather than fact. The volumes of extensive research and public comments on this issue provide compelling support for the regulations that shorten truck drivers’ on-duty time and increase their required off-duty time.

“The new HOS rule is based on an exhaustive review of more than 1,000 articles and studies on driver health and fatigue-related issues, as well as more than 1,800 public comments, including data from truck drivers and trucking companies showing that crash and injury rates decreased in the year since the new HOS requirements took effect in January 2004. Plus, data from the Federal government’s Fatal Accident Reporting System showed that during the same period fatigue-related fatal crashes decreased nearly 12 percent. Only an estimated 5.5 percent of all large truck crashes are fatigue-related.

“Under the new rule, truck drivers’ total on-duty time is shortened by one hour, followed by a mandatory 10-hour break that allows them sufficient time to get the quality sleep they need. Additionally, FMCSA provided a clear and direct response to questions raised by the court about the rule’s impact on drivers’ health, emphasizing that the longer rest period has reduced driver fatigue and improved driving performance.

“We relied on credible research to write a new HOS rule that we expect to help truck drivers function more safely behind the wheel and, consequently, prevent more than 3,400 truck crashes each year. We believe your readers deserve to know the facts – rather than the Insurance Journal’s assumptions – that indicate how to improve trucking safety.”

Sincerely,

Annette Sandberg
Administrator
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

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