FMCSA looks into collecting data on excessive driver commuting

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 11/28/2017

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking approval from the White House to proceed with the collection of information on the prevalence of excessive, 150-minute or more, driver commuting within the trucking industry.

As mandated by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) in Section 5515, FMCSA is required to conduct a study on the safety effects of motor carrier operator commutes exceeding 150 minutes, according to the Notice of Proposed Information Collection published in the Federal Register on Monday, Nov. 27.

If granted permission by the White House Office of Management and Budget, FMCSA will be collecting commercial driver commute information. That information will include the number and percentage of drivers who commute; the distances traveled, time zones crossed, time spent commuting and methods of transportation used; research on the impact of excessive commuting on safety and commercial driver fatigue; the commuting practices of commercial drivers and policies of motor carriers; and FMCSA regulations, policies, and guidance regarding excessive driver commuting.

Data collection will include information from 500 commercial drivers, 250 freight operators and 250 passenger bus drivers. Surveys are expected to take 20 minutes to complete. According to the notice, the burden of cost to the industry will be nearly $4,000, which is calculated by assuming a total of 166.7 hours spent on the survey at an average wage of $23.67 per hour.

Public comments on the data collection proposal will be accepted fort 60 days, ending on Jan. 26, 2018. When or if FMCSA completes the study, it must be submitted to Congress within 18 months.

According to the notice seeking approval, both the number of workers and distance to affordable housing have increased in the past two decades. Increased traffic delays have led to commuters spending more time in their vehicles, an extra 7 billion hours in 2015 in the U.S.

Needless to say, more time spent driving to and from work can cut into time spent sleeping, leaving workers fatigued while on the job.

In the notice, FMCSA points to research that studied a region in Texas where 90 percent of the people commute to work. The study monitored more than 4,000 adults in the area. Results revealed the longer the commute the less physically fit the driver, including poorer cardiovascular health. More specifically, adults with longer commutes were found to weigh more, be less physically active and have higher blood pressure.

Specific to commercial drivers, the proposed data collection will look for driver characteristics such as work history, commuting time/transport mode/recording of that time, driving schedules, rests/breaks, miles driven annually and demographics.

If allowed to proceed, FMCSA will select a random sample of 12,000 drivers from the Motor Carrier Management Information System. These drivers will be asked to take an online survey and compensated $10 for their time. FMCSA expects a participating rate of approximately 4 percent, hence, the target number of 500 participants.

Comments can be sent via one of four methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the online instructions for submitting comments
  • Fax: 202–493–2251
  • Mail: Docket Operations, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, DC 20590–0001
  • Hand Delivery or Courier: 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, DC 20590 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

All comments must include the agency’s name (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) and docket number (FMCSA-2017-0313).



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