The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said the findings from a third-party study show further evidence that the restart provision in the current hours-of-service rule for truck drivers is “more effective at combatting fatigue than the prior version.”
“Safety is our top priority, and this new study shows more data-driven evidence that our safety standards help truckers stay well-rested, alert and focused on the road,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “The hours-of-service rule is helping to reduce truck driver fatigue and making every traveler on our highways and roads safer.”
FMCSA’s updated 34-hour restart, which took effect July 1, 2013, includes two nighttime periods from 1 to 5 a.m. and is intended to provide sufficient time for a driver to recuperate from cumulative fatigue if he or she works beyond the weekly maximum on-duty limits.
Researchers at the Washington State University Sleep and Performance Research Center and Philadelphia-based Pulsar Informatics measured sleep, reaction time, sleepiness and driving performance in the study. They found drivers who began their work week with just one nighttime period of rest, as compared to the two nights in the updated 34-hour restart break:
- Exhibited more lapses of attention, especially at night.
- Reported greater sleepiness, especially toward the end of their duty periods.
- Showed increased lane deviation in the morning, afternoon and at night.
“For the small percentage of truckers that average up to 70 hours of work a week, two nights of rest is better for their safety and the safety of everyone on the road,” FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said.
This recent research is considered one of the largest real-world studies ever conducted with commercial motor vehicle drivers, and included 106 participants, 1,260 days of data and nearly 415,000 miles of driving that were recorded by the truck-based data acquisition systems.
FMCSA said its own analysis shows the updated 34-hour restart rule will prevent about 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries, and save 19 lives each year. “Only the most extreme schedules in which drivers are working more than 70 hours in one week will be impacted, and the vast majority of workforce – more than 85 percent – will see little to no change in their schedules as a result,” the agency said.