Another Department of Transportation (DOT) hours-of-service (HOS) regulation is under consideration, according to an announcement (pdf) to be published in the Oct. 18, 2012 edition of the Federal Register. Specifically, the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is eyeing changes to current HOS requirements governing drivers of passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicles (“motorcoaches”) in order to reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes. In December 2011, the DOT and FMCSA issued final rules establishing rest periods and work hours for commercial passenger airline pilots and commercial truck drivers, respectively.

According to the FMCSA, the HOS requirements for motorcoach operators have not been revised in decades, and were not included as part of HOS rules put in place for truck drivers in 2003 due to insufficient data on motorcoach operations. The agency contends that motorcoach operations “differ significantly” from trucking operations, and that such drivers face “unique fatigue issues.”

To this end, the FMCSA will hold a listening session on October 30, 2012 to solicit comments on the factors, issues, and data the agency should consider in determining whether it should move ahead with regulations. The session will be held in Santa Barbara, CA but will be webcast and transcribed.

Information on how and where to attend the meeting both in person and online can be found in the Federal Register notice, and will be posted on the FMCSA’s website as the meeting date approaches.The Federal Register notice also provides details on how to participate during the public forum, and where to submit written input regarding studies or data on fatigue and safety differences associated with different driving times; information on patterns of work for night drivers; whether the agency’s time-on-task (TOT) function is reasonable and/or ways this approach can be improved; and whether the FMCSA’s methodology for evaluating cumulative fatigue and its impact on driving performance is reasonable.