The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has decided to cancel a long-planned study focused on the safety implications of allowing truck drivers to split their on- and off-duty hours into different segments. The main reason cited for this decision is the agency's accelerated push to suggest changes to the current hours of service regulations, which makes the study redundant.
David Heller, representing the Truckload Carriers Association, revealed that a senior FMCSA official confirmed the study's cancellation. The study initially aimed to monitor 200 truck drivers in real-world conditions. Half would operate under the present rules, while the other half would work under flexible hours, dividing their 10-hour off-duty time into different segments.
The FMCSA administration's goal is to expedite any modifications to the service hours. This rapid approach means that the study results would be available much later than the proposed regulatory changes. As a result, the study was deemed unnecessary.
Notably, the website promoting the study is now inactive. Concerns have arisen about this abrupt decision, especially from safety advocates and victims of truck crashes. They believe that the study would have provided much-needed data to support any changes, and without it, the proposal might be perceived as lacking substantial evidence. This lack of research and data could lead to legal challenges against the proposed changes.
After publishing its advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in August, FMCSA sought public feedback for 45 days on potential changes to the current rule, garnering approximately 5,200 comments. The feedback included suggestions like adding split-sleeper berth options, among others.