Commercial truck drivers in Pennsylvania spend many hours on the road, and all of them aren’t necessarily actual work hours. Many truckers have long commutes from home to work, and this issue is about to be examined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The agency is now taking comments on a proposed survey of excessive commuting for drivers and the role long commutes play in their safety.
FMCSA defines excessive commuting as any commute to work that takes 150 minutes or longer. Under the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the agency must conduct a survey on the safety effects commutes of over two and half hours have on commercial motor vehicle drivers. FMCSA says that in the past 20 years, the number of drivers has increased and so has the distance to affordable housing in metropolitan areas. These factors have resulted in more drivers having long commute times.
Long commutes can impact workers’ health, according to statistics that show higher instances of poor cardiovascular health and poor overall fitness in drivers with long commutes. FMCSA also says that long commutes can cut into off-duty time and keep drivers from getting enough sleep, which can lead to fatigue; a major safety concern for all drivers.
The FAST Act is believed to have been a response to the 2015 accident that killed comedian James McNair and injured comedian Tracy Morgan. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the truck driver who hit the van carrying the two comedians was fatigued at the time of the accident.
Not all truck drivers are employees of companies, but those who are have protections under federal law and certain employee rights. Among these rights is whistleblower protection, which makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who report safety violations or illegal activity at work.