Is Excessive Commuting A Trucking Safety Problem

Have you heard? The FMCSA has come out stating that they believe “excessive commuting” by truck drivers may be a problem and they are seeking public comment on the matter. They also plan on surveying commercial truck and bus drivers to see what their commuting habits are. But what is excessive commuting?

According to the FMCSA, any commute that takes 150 minutes or more is considered excessive. In the FMCSA’s statement on the survey, which they have forwarded to the White House Office of Management and Budget for permission to complete, they stated the following:

“As the number of workers has increased and the distance to affordable housing has also increased in most metropolitan areas, commuting times have increased in the U.S. According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, travel delays due to traffic congestion caused drivers to waste more than 3 billion gallons of fuel and kept travelers stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours (42 hours per rush-hour commuter).”

If the Office of Management and Budget ends up giving the all-clear for the survey, the FMCSA will put together an online system designed to poll up to 12,000 truck drivers regarding their commuting habits.

In providing a notice on the survey, which was published on November 27 in the Federal Register, the agency specifically pointed to Section 5515 of the Fixing America’s Surface Infrastructure (FAST) Act. Section 5515 specifically requires the FMCSA to conduct a study on whether or not commutes represent a safety problem in the trucking industry.

The survey will be designed to gather specific details about:

  • How much excessive commuting occurs within the trucking industry, data will include overall number and percentage of truck drivers?
  • How far truck drivers travel during their commutes?
  • Did they cross any time zones?
  • What method of transportation are they using in their commute?
  • Is there an impact on safety or fatigue from long commutes?
  • Are there other ways the FMCSA can impact long truck driver commute times?

The FMCSA also stated that long commutes can negatively impact truck drivers in a number of ways. They also provided additional background on the survey in this comment:

“In the past two decades, as the number of workers has increased and the distance to affordable housing has also increased in most metropolitan areas, commuting times have increased in the United States.”

The areas where commuting delays can have a significant impact on truckers were found to be in missing or compromised off-duty time due to long commute and negative impacts to overall truck driver health.

In supporting these initiatives, the FMCSA went on to say:

“Long commuting times can reduce a driver’s available off-duty time for sleep and personal activities. This can lead to excessive fatigue while on duty, creating safety concerns for both the CMV driver and other drivers on the roads. A recent study was conducted that monitored 4,297 adults from 12 metropolitan Texas counties. In this region, 90% of people commute to work. The study found that the drivers who have long commuting times were more likely to have poor cardiovascular health and be less physically fit. This study showed that people who commute long distances to work weigh more, are less physically active, and have higher blood pressure.”

Now the question is, what do you think? With the public comment period open, don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts with the FMCSA. After all, these are the rules and regulations that directly impact your job. Do you feel like excessive commuting impacts you or perhaps you think it isn’t that much of a problem?

Either way, follow this link to leave your opinion on the survey page. And as usual, we will be right here reporting on the final results when they are released.