Travel time to and from the home should NOT be counted as part of the 8 hour rest period. But in a separate category.I think the bigger question here is why can't the unions get the hours of service regulations revised. The current railroad hours-of-service laws permit, and many railroad carriers require, the most burdensome fatigue-inducing work schedule of any federally regulated transportation mode in this country. A comparison of the modes is revealing. The aviation, highway, marine and rail modes all have federally imposed limits on the amount of work and rest in a 24-hour period. The aviation and highway modes also impose weekly limits. Only aviation has monthly and annual limits. To keep the comparison simple, consider the number of hours an employee of each mode is permitted to work in the course of a 30-day month:
- A commercial airline pilot can fly up to 100 hours per month;
- A truck driver can be on duty up to about 260 hours per month;
- Shipboard personnel, at sea, cannot operate more than 360 hours per month, and only 270 hours per month when in port; and
- Locomotive engineers can operate a train up to 432 hours per month, which equates to more than 14 hours a day on each of those 30 days.
We fail to understand why a locomotive engineer, or other train crew member, is permitted to work more than 4 times longer than an airline pilot, and 1.5 times longer than a truck driver.
Let me emphasize that we are not advocating reducing everybody's hours to 100 hours a month. Our point is that allowing any transportation worker in a safety-sensitive position-operating powerful equipment through our Nation's cities-to work more than 400 hours per month is excessive, if not downright unconscionable.
The Safety Board also believes that the hours-of-service laws have no scientific basis. In fairness to those who framed the laws in 1907, there was little more than anecdotal knowledge about fatigue at that time. But in the last two decades, the scientific and research communities have conducted extensive in-depth studies of sleep and fatigue. We now know a great deal about the structure of sleep, the effects of human biological or circadian rhythms, and the debilitating effects that cumulative sleep loss has on alertness and health.
The railroad hours-of-service laws prescribe only maximum hours on duty and a minimum amount of rest in a 24-hour period. They do not take into account (1) how human circadian rhythms interact with the time of day when the work/rest periods take place, (2) the cumulative effects of working an unlimited number of successive days, or (3) the long-term health effects of various work/rest schedules. In short, it is time for a substantial scientifically-based revision to the Hours of Service Act. Unfortunately, little meaningful progress has been made, we believe, because the solution requires a fundamental change in habits and culture - and neither is easy to change. Labor has grown accustomed to the extra money earned and companies save money by employing fewer operators. This was made evident in testimony given at a recent Safety Board hearing on railroad safety. We must all recognize that fatigue is debilitating, and that fewer workers and more overtime are the fundamental ingredients for fatigue.
Taken from: http://www.ntsb.gov/speeches/s980916.htm
My question is this: airlines, steamship lines and trucking companies are all in business to make money, just as railroads are. Why then, has it been impossible to get some type of revision to the hours of service law?
I understand that it is tough because RR operations aren't as scheduled which leads to the stange hours, but I believe even a simple cap on the amount of hours worked for a given period would have a significant impact on the reduction of fatigued workers.