FMCSA Funding Study of Truckers' Restart Breaks, Fatigue

VTTI reported that Hanowski and his team will recruit about 250 truck drivers from fleets of various sizes -- long-haul, short-haul, and regional -- for the on-road study and will compare five-month work schedules of drivers.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute announced it has begun a study of the impact of restart breaks on commercial truck drivers' safety performance and fatigue levels, part of a $4 million study for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The breaks are required by the hours of service regulation, but a federal government spending bill enacted Dec. 16, 2014, suspended two provisions of those rules, pending the completion of a new commercial motor vehicle driver restart study.

FMCSA selected the institute's Center for Truck and Bus Safety to lead the Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Restart Study. The institute will track and compare truck driver fatigue and safety performance levels for drivers who take two nighttime rest periods during their 34-hour restart break and for drivers who take less than two nighttime rest periods during their restart break.

"We are excited by the opportunity and have assembled a world-class team to lead this landmark study mandated by Congress," said Richard Hanowski, director of the safety center. "A better understanding in which the new hours of service provisions are being implemented by drivers, and to better quantify fatigue and the relative road safety risk is an extremely important issue for highway safety. We have an opportunity to perform ground-breaking research that will have impact for decades to come."

VTTI reported that Hanowski and his team will recruit about 250 truck drivers from fleets of various sizes -- long-haul, short-haul, and regional – for the on-road study and will compare five-month work schedules of drivers, assessing crashes, near-crashes, crash-relevant conflicts, operator fatigue/alertness, and short-term health outcomes for the two driver groups.

The research plan includes a variety of haul types in the study, including flat-bed, refrigerated, tanker, and dry-van trailers. "Our Truck and Bus Safety center is well-suited to lead this research based on past work we have done in this field," said Hanowski. "We have coordinated similar projects that were smaller. This will be the largest study of its kind ever performed using commercial vehicle drivers."

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