Hours of Service Restart Study Plan Released

Congress directed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to analyze the operational, safety, health, and fatigue impacts of the restart provisions.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has posted its study plan for a congressionally mandated study of the operational, safety, health, and fatigue impacts of the agency's hours-of-service restart provisions. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is the contractor conducting the study.

The plan explains how the research team will measure and compare the fatigue and safety performance levels of drivers who take two or more nighttime rest periods during their 34-hour restart break with drivers who take one nighttime rest period during their restart break. Congress directed FMCSA to conduct this Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Restart Study in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015.

In it, FMCSA will compare five-month driver work schedules and assess operators' fatigue and safety critical events (such as crashes and near-crashes) between these two groups:

  • CMV drivers who operate under the hours of service restart provisions in effect between July 1, 2013, and Dec. 15, 2014.
  • CMV drivers who operate under the provisions as in effect on June 30, 2013.

The sample of drivers will be large enough to produce statistically significant results, will include drivers from small, medium, and large fleets across a variety of operations, and will include different sectors of the industry, such as flat-bed, refrigerated, tank, and dry-van. Safety critical events, driver fatigue/levels of alertness, and driver health outcomes will be evaluated using:

  • Electronic Logging Devices, which track drivers' time on duty
  • The Psychomotor Vigilance Test, which measures alertness
  • Actigraph watches, which assess sleep
  • Onboard monitoring systems and/or cameras that record or measure safety critical events and driver alertness
  • The Karolinska Sleepiness Scale, which measures drivers' assessment of sleepiness

Data collection began in March 2015.

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