New Updates in Hours-of-Service Debate


A study released Jan. 30 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) confirms that truck drivers who have two nights of rest prior to their work week under the currently required 34-hour restart break suffer less fatigue on the road than those who only have one night of rest.

Washington State University Sleep and Performance Research Center and Philadelphia-based Pulsar Informatics Inc. measured sleep reaction time sleepiness and performance on the road in the study. Results prove that drivers with the required two nights of rest show a better attention span to the road; less sleepiness especially at the end of their duty; and decreased lane deviation.

This new study confirms the science we used to make the hours-of-service rule more effective at preventing crashes that involve sleepy or drowsy truck drivers said FMCSA administrator Anne S. Ferro.

The updated 34-hour restart requires two nighttime periods from 1 to 5 a.m. to provide drivers time to recuperate from fatigue if they work more than the weekly hour maximum. The previous requirement did not include any time of day limitations effectively requiring only one period of rest before a new work week. Under the new law more than 85 percent of truck drivers see no change to their schedules.

Scientists estimate that the updated rule will prevent about 1400 crashes 560 injuries and save 19 lives annually.

The FMCSA was mandated by Congress to conduct the study under the provision MAP-21. However before the study was completed the rule was enacted last year on July 1 to the upset of some legislators.  And not all are satisfied with the manner of the study.

“We appreciate FMCSA releasing the results of its restart field study” Dave Osiecki executive vice president & chief of national advocacy for the American Trucking Associations said in an emailed statement. “However in many respects this short report is lacking critical analyses on several important issues.”

Two such issues are that the study does not address the impact of increased trucks on the road during daytime hours and does not evaluate the effects of the once-a-week restart restriction the “168-hour rule.”

“While the study includes some findings favorable to certain portions of the new restart rule Osiecki added the incomplete nature of the analysis and the lack of justification for the once-weekly use restriction is consistent with the flawed analyses that led the agency to make these changes in the first place.

The study is one of the largest involving commercial motor vehicle drivers with 106 participants 1260 days of data and 415000 miles of driving.

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