The recent flurry of challenges to the new truck driver hours-of-service (HOS) rule has put the problem of driver fatigue in the spotlight once again. And it's left more than a few industry players wondering what else they can do to address the issue.
Fortunately for them, help is at hand. The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Canadian Ministry of Transport recently released what they call the "North American Fatigue Management Program." Among other things, the program, which is designed to disseminate information on reducing and managing truck driver fatigue, provides suggestions on how shippers and receivers might help alleviate this important problem.
As part of that effort, the agencies have made available on the program's website, 10 free training modules for drivers, carrier executives and managers, dispatchers, drivers' families, and shippers and receivers. Each module covers a variety of subjects that are tailored to the particular group for which it was designed, but all focus on reducing driver fatigue and eliminating fatigue-related accidents.
Working through each module takes anywhere from 30 minutes for the shipper and receiver section to three hours for one of the driver programs. I reviewed the shipper and receiver module and found it to be very informative, although much of it consisted of basic business judgment. (Unfortunately, however, it is often judgment many choose not to exercise.)
The overview of the fatigue management program provided some interesting data that demonstrated why such an initiative is worthwhile. For example:
Shippers and receivers share some of the blame, in that often there is limited access to parking and comfortable rest areas, pressure to meet schedules, and unreasonable loading/unloading delays. Facilities for drivers at some firms are substandard at best, and facilities for women are almost nonexistent. Loading and unloading delays are common. In a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, 68 percent of the drivers reported they had been delayed more than two hours in the past month. Eighty percent said it affected their HOS compliance, and 65 percent said they lost revenue due to the delays. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, the true cost of a delay ranges from $80 to $120 per hour.
Many shippers and receivers view drivers' hours of service and driver fatigue as carrier problems, and from an operational perspective, they probably are. But as users of carrier services, we should do what we can to minimize them. You might not think you have a dog in that hunt, but in the final analysis, everyone shares in the cost of driver delays and accidents. If you're a shipper and/or receiver, a visit to this website would be 30 minutes well spent. As a statement on the site noted, the vicarious liability doctrine potentially "places responsibility with one person for the failure of another with whom the person has a special relationship ..."
The elimination of driver fatigue is in everyone's best interest.