U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 9, 2000
Contact: Dave Longo
Secretary Slater Calls on Truck Safety Stakeholders To Discuss Driver-Fatigue
Safety Standard Extends Comment Period on Rulemaking to Dec. 15
Secretary Rodney E. Slater today called on leaders from the trucking industry,
labor unions and safety groups to gather together with the U.S. Department of
Transportation to update the 60-year-old hours-of-service rule to help prevent
truck and bus crashes involving fatigued drivers.
"Our purpose is to
assure that drivers of trucks and buses have sufficient opportunity for rest so
that we can reduce the number of fatalities that result from fatigue-related
crashes," Secretary Slater said. "The purpose of these meetings will
be to obtain information these groups may have so that we can incorporate it
into our deliberations and thus continue our rulemaking process."
In phone calls today,
Secretary Slater said he invited participants to provide in-depth information in
three topic areas for three different "roundtables." The roundtables,
each of which is expected to last two days, will be scheduled for September and
October and will be hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Participants will be
invited to join others at the table, based on comments they have already
submitted or made at public hearings. The roundtable also will be open to
members of the public.
The information collected
during the roundtable discussions, in conjunction with findings from eight
public hearings held around the country and other comments, will be evaluated as
the department proceeds with the rulemaking process. The department has the
option of issuing a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking.
The topics of these
meetings will include the economic impact of revising the current
hours-of-service safety standard, fatigue research and law enforcement; sleeper
berth requirements, communication during rest periods, end-of-work week rest
periods, and hours of work permitted each day; and categories of carrier
operations, electronic on-board recorders, and exemptions.
The first meeting will be
Sept. 25-26 at the National 4-H Center, 7100 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, Md.
The remaining meetings will be Sept. 28-29 and Oct. 5-6 at the Marriott Wardman
Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road, N.W., Washington, D.C.
Secretary Slater also
announced that the comment period on the hours-of-service rulemaking would be
extended to Dec. 15, 2000. This is the second time the comment period has been
extended in order to obtain the maximum input possible during the rulemaking
process. The comment period, originally ending on July 31, 2000, was first
extended to Oct. 30, 2000.
reiterated his concern about language in pending Senate transportation funding
bill which would halt all work on updating the hours-of-service rule. Secretary
Slater said that the language is unnecessary and harmful as it would prevent the
Department from moving forward on any meaningful reform.
There were 5,203
truck-related fatalities in 1999. About 800 each year are fatigue-related. The
proposed rule would prevent an estimated 2,600 crashes, 115 fatalities and 2,995
serious injuries annually.
The Department, on April
25, 2000, proposed to improve highway safety by changing the current
hours-of-service rule, which regulates the number of hours drivers of big trucks
and buses can operate without resting. The current rule permits drivers to be
behind the wheel for 10 hours and then rest for 8, or 16 hours out of a 24-hour
day. This rule was written in 1935, modified in 1937 and revised in 1962 by the
now-defunct Interstate Commerce Commission. Little has been done to update it
since. In the meantime, the number of trucks and the vehicle miles they traveled
Comments on the April 25
proposal may be sent to the USDOT Docket Facility, Attn: Docket FMCSA-97-2350,
400 Seventh St., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590. The proposal may be viewed on the
Internet after searching at
Comments also may be submitted electronically at this site.
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