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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed new reforms that could impact truck-driver safety. (Photo: welcomia/Shutterstock) The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed new reforms that could impact truck-driver safety. (Photo: welcomia/Shutterstock)

In August of 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed the Split Duty Period Pilot Program, which would allow temporary regulatory relief from the agency’s hours-of-service requirement for commercial drivers who are carrying cargo. Simply put, the new program modifies the current rule that requires drivers to complete their work within a 14-hour time frame. For participating truck drivers, this would give them the option to put off their 14-hour driving window with an off-duty period lasting between 30 minutes and three hours. Selected drivers will drive an instrumented vehicle with a smartphone that collects data.

According to the FMCSA, the pilot program’s goal is to gather evidence as to whether decisions concerning the timing of this flexibility can be aligned with the scheduling preferences of employers, shippers and receivers to optimize productivity efforts while keeping drivers safe. While American trucking associations generally supported the change, some members voiced safety concerns who saw the proposal as a way to extend a driver’s workday from 14 to 17 hours, which could significantly increase the risk of a crash. Currently, the pilot program is scheduled to run for up to three years.

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