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Real-World Hours-of-Service Study Shows Drivers Using New Restart Are More Alert, Less Fatigued

Third-Party Study Shows Drivers Who Follow New Rule are More Alert, Deviated from Lane Less Often

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today released findings from a real world, third-party study providing further scientific 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. "The hours-of-service rule is helping to reduce truck driver fatigue and making every traveler on our highways and roads safer."

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.

Working long hours on a continuing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a high risk of crashes and a number of serious chronic health conditions in drivers. The updated 34-hour restart, 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 they work beyond the weekly maximum on-duty limits.

Analysis shows that the rule will prevent approximately 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.

On July 4, 2012, President Obama signed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) into law, which required the agency to conduct a field study on the efficacy of the restart provision of the hours-of-service rule for truck drivers.

On Dec. 27, 2011, FMCSA published the updated hours-of-service rules for truck drivers that amended the 34-hour restart provision to include at least two nighttime periods from 1 to 5 a.m. instead of one. MAP-21 did not change the July 1, 2013 effective date of the rule.

To read the full study, visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

SOURCE Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

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