Revised Driver Fatigue Rules
Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments (View Public Comments Received:1)
STATEMENT OF BASIS AND PURPOSE OF RULES
This proposed rule amends a rule that the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) adopted in July 2016 to address the risks of fatigued driving. The proposed rule incorporates feedback from the industry since the adoption of the initial rule. The proposed rule also adds new reporting requirements for the for-hire vehicle (FHV) sector that will support the regulation of fatigued driving and assist TLC with enforcement initiatives in other areas.
Long hours driving on the road can lead to fatigue and reduced sleep, and compounded over time, may result in chronic fatigue. For drivers, this means slowed reaction times and a reduced ability to assess situations quickly, increasing the danger of driver errors and the risk of crashing. Additionally, research has shown that being awake for 18 hours results in impairment equal to driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI), and that being awake for 24 hours results in impairment equal to 1.25 times the threshold for driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Although almost all TLC-licensed drivers do not drive an excessive number of hours, TLC recognized that a small number does and that some drivers may be tempted to work dangerously long hours. Therefore, in support of the City’s Vision Zero initiative to reduce traffic fatalities, TLC adopted rules in July 2016 to address the risks of fatigued driving.
Before establishing in these rules the maximum number of hours that licensed taxi and FHV drivers may work in any day or week, TLC analyzed available trip data, including FHV trip data. TLC used pickup times as a proxy for hours worked because that was the only data that FHV bases were required to report.
This approach provided one uniform method for calculating driving hours across the taxi and FHV sectors. TLC counted a pickup as one hour that would be tallied against the limit, regardless of the trip duration.
Many stakeholders, including FHV bases, argued that it would be more accurate to use trip duration to calculate driving hours. TLC delayed implementation of the driver fatigue rules to explore this method for calculating driving hours as a means of establishing safe daily and weekly driving limits. In the fall of 2016, several FHV bases voluntarily produced trip records that included both pickup and drop-off times, allowing TLC to calculate trip durations. TLC then analyzed both FHV and taxi trip records and determined that a calculation based on trip duration provides a more accurate way to identify drivers at risk of fatigue. This method also makes it easier for drivers and bases to track driving hours, which will help them comply with the limits established in this proposed rule.
Revised Fatigued Driving Rule
As a result of the above analysis, this proposed rule adopts the alternative method for calculating driving hours based on trip duration. Licensed drivers would still be subject to daily and weekly driving limits, as under the current driver fatigue rules. Moreover, like the current rule, the proposed rule also addresses acute and chronic fatigue, provides flexibility for different shift types, fights fatigue in both the taxi and FHV sectors, and accounts for drivers working in both the taxi and FHV sectors.
The existing rule accounts for total driving time – transporting of passengers plus time cruising while not transporting passengers - in the calculation of the daily and weekly limits. Since the proposed rule does not include cruising time, the daily and weekly limits would be reduced in the new rule from 12 hours to 10 hours and from 72 hours to 60 hours, respectively, to ensure that total driving time remains within acceptable limits. Even with these reduced daily and weekly limits, however, most drivers would not need to modify their driving hours in order to comply.
The proposed rule would reduce the safety risks of fatigued driving by:
Prohibiting a driver of a taxi or for-hire vehicle from transporting passengers for hire for more than 10 hours in any 24-hour period;
Prohibiting a driver of a taxi or for-hire vehicle from transporting passengers for hire for more than 60 hours in a calendar week (that is, Sunday through Saturday);
Resetting the 10-hour clock for a driver after any period in which he or she has gone at least eight consecutive hours without transporting passengers (e.g., a driver who finishes a trip at 9:30 p.m. on Monday after transporting passengers for 10 hours must take at least an eight hour break before picking up the next passenger no sooner than Tuesday at 5:30 a.m.); and
Prohibiting a base from dispatching a driver to transport passengers for more than 10 hours in any 24-hour period (unless that base has stopped dispatching the driver to transport passengers for eight or more consecutive hours) and prohibiting a base from dispatching a driver to transport passengers for more than 60 hours in a calendar week.
To enforce the proposed rule, each month TLC will review trip records submitted by yellow and green taxis, as well as FHV bases, to calculate the number of hours in which a driver transported passengers in a day or week. Trips by a driver who accepts dispatches from multiple bases, or who operates both taxis and for-hire vehicles, will be combined to determine the total number of driving hours. Bases will only be responsible for trips that they dispatch, not dispatches that their affiliated drivers accept through other bases or street hails accepted by green taxis.
Additional FHV Trip Data Reporting Requirements
As noted above, implementation of the proposed driver fatigue rule is based on calculation of trip times, which will require FHV bases to regularly transmit to TLC drop-off time and location, in addition to the pickup time and location currently required by TLC rule. In addition to requiring FHV bases to report trip times, TLC will also require them to indicate when trips are shared. With drop-off location information, TLC can confirm the accuracy of the FHV records by considering such factors as distances traveled during and between trips, routes, and traffic conditions. Accurate drop-off information will also ensure that these rules are applied consistently whether the driver works in the taxi or FHV sector, given the flexibility now available to drivers under the newly-instituted TLC Driver’s License.
Drop-off data for FHV trips will also assist TLC in effectively investigating passenger complaints or complaints from a pedestrian or other motorist about unsafe driving, by allowing it to determine the location of a vehicle at a particular time, including for incidents alleged to have occurred during or between trips. The data is particularly important for investigations in the FHV sector, where, unlike yellow and green taxis, the vast and growing vehicle fleet does not have readily identifiable markers, such as a medallion or permit number on the roof light.
The data will also support street enforcement in major service areas. For example, the potential for illegal solicitations by FHV drivers is high at peak drop-off times at the airports when drivers have completed trips and observe a large number of potential passengers. By understanding when for-hire trips to and from the airports occur TLC can better target resources to ensure that passengers are picked up at the airport only by drivers authorized to do so.
Finally, as the number of FHV vehicles and trips continues to grow, so does the need for greater transparency and accountability. Since November 2014, when TLC first imposed trip reporting requirements on the FHV sector, the number of FHVs has grown by over 50 percent to nearly 78,000 vehicles, or four times the combined number of yellow and green taxis. Because of the 2014 trip reporting requirements, the mechanism is in place for bases to submit the additional trip data to TLC that they collect. Collection of this data is likely already taking place, particularly for FHV trips that are dispatched via technologically-sophisticated means or when bases provide a binding fare quote.
For all of the above reasons, the proposed rule would amend the current trip record rules to require that FHV bases collect and transmit to TLC:
The drop-off time and location for each trip that they dispatch, and
An indication that the dispatched trip was shared with another dispatched trip.
TLC will maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the additional data that it will be collecting because of these new reporting requirements, as it does with all data currently collected.
To implement the driver fatigue rule, TLC will first work with FHV bases to help them meet the new trip data reporting requirements. After these reporting requirements are met, and before any summonses are issued, TLC will issue warnings for several months to drivers or bases that exceed the daily or weekly driving limits. During this implementation period, TLC will continue to provide its expanded driver education and training materials, which were introduced after the adoption of the driver fatigue rule in July 2016 and include strategies to combat fatigue and information on the benefits of breaks and the importance of getting adequate rest. By drawing on all of these tools, TLC seeks to ensure that drivers have enough time to rest prior to transporting passengers for hire and thus help move the city a step closer to achieving Vision Zero.
TLC issued rules in 2014 requiring FHV bases to report the pickup time and location of each trip, in addition to the license numbers of the driver and vehicle performing the trip.