FMCSA study validates new Hours of Service rules
Data reveals that truckers who adhere to new HOS rules reported better attention, less fatigue, more focus, and this will ultimately reduce truck accidents
In the last few years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has made some substantial changes in the hours of service rules regulating the amount of time that truck drivers, bus drivers, and other commercial vehicle operators can drive.
The new rules have been hotly contested, and have even been the subject of court battles.
Well, the FMSCA recently released its long-awaited field study on the current hours-of-service rule.
The agency concluded that the two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. period requirements of the 34-hour restart provisions of the rule lead to safer operation of commercial vehicles.
The study was conducted by the Sleep Performance Research Center in Washington State University in Spokane, Washington., and part of the study was done in Pulsar Informatics in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The study featured 106 truck and bus drivers ranging from 24 to 69 years old. The group was studied in two duty cycles and during the 34-hour restarts on each side.
According to the report, those truck drivers who did not include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods reported increased fatigue – especially as they approached the end of their duty period — than those following the provisions of the current HOS rule. These truck drivers also reported deviating from their lanes more often and increased difficulty in concentration and remaining alert, especially at night.
FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro lauded the results of the study. Ferro weighed in:
“[t]his 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. 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.”
As an attorney who litigates cases involving fatigued drivers, I completely agree with Ferro’s last statement. Fatigue is often one of the factors contributing to serious truck wrecks. And any wreck caused by a fatigued driver is completely preventable.
But every single day on our roads, we continue to have fatigued drivers that leave people seriously injured or dead. When a truck driver dozes off or loses concentration behind the wheel, or has delays in his perception/reaction time because he is fatigued, it can and does often lead to tragedy.
But not everybody is sold on this report.