The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced it will begin two new research studies in the next few months to examine factors affecting big rig interstate driver safety. The focus is to determine “to what extent driver compensation practices, and detention time at shippers’ loading and receiving docks affect drivers’ ability to drive safely.” This study is likely related to the recent rule enacted that requires drivers to list as “off-duty time” that period of time – including long periods of time – the driver is waiting in a parked vehicle at a shipper’s dock. There is a question as to whether this rule will contribute to driver fatigue and affect driver performance.
Previously, prior to the February 27, 2012 rule change, commercial truck drivers would require drivers waiting at a shipper’s dock to mark that time “on-duty” in their driver’s logs. This would naturally reduce the number of hours an 18 wheeler driver could be on the road in accordance with interstate trucking guidelines. The old rule, however, would not apply if the driver was in the sleeper berth.
There is also a research project that is going to determine if there is a correlation between the way drivers are compensated (either by the load or by the mile) and driver behavior when they are actually driving. There is concern that if a driver is under constant pressure to push him or herself to maximize the driver’s income, then that could affect driver safety.