FMCSA Releases Study That Says HOS Restart Rule Is Working

The release of its long-awaited field study says the new 34-hour restart rule for truck drivers is more effective at combating fatigue than the prior version.

Late last week the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released its long-awaited field study on the new 34-hour restart rule, saying the the real world, third-party study provided further scientific evidence that the restart provision in the current Hours of Service rule for truck drivers is more effective at combating fatigue than the prior version.

According to the study, scientists measured sleep, reaction time, sleepiness and driving performance in the study. They found that 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; and showed increased lane deviation in the morning, afternoon and at night.

“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 Federal Motor Carrier Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “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.”

The study was conducted by the Washington State University Sleep and Performance Research Center and Philadelphia-based Pulsar Informatics, Inc. It is 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.

The FMCSA’s claim already has trucking executives and professional truck drivers criticizing the results. Most trucking executives maintain the new provision has cut productivity anywhere from 4 to 8 percent and is contributing to the increasing shortage of drivers, while the drivers themselves say the new provision has cut the number of miles they can get in a week and thus reduced their pay.

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