Here it is Folks...Virginia Tech To Conduct Official HOS Studyby Jana Ritter - Published: 2/06/2015
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is set to begin the congressionally mandated study of truck driver hours of service rules, specifically focusing on the highly controversial and recently suspended restart provisions. This is will be the official study that the government will use in determining whether those restart rules should be tossed or reinstated, or whether new regulations should be developed to more effectively reduce driver fatigue.
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The five-month study will involve an estimated 250 truck drivers from various types of carriers and will closely examine the effect of the 34-hour restart on driver fatigue and road safety. It is the latest step in the long and heated debate over how many hours U.S. truck drivers should spend driving, working and resting each day and week.
“We have assembled a world-class team to lead this landmark study mandated by Congress. We have an opportunity to perform ground-breaking research that will have impact for decades to come,” said Richard Hanowski, director of Virginia Tech’s Truck and Bus Safety Center.
The Virginia Tech study will track and compare truck driver fatigue and safety performance levels one set of drivers that takes two nighttime rest periods during their restarts, and another group that takes less than two nighttime rest periods. The study will then compare the work schedules of both driver groups, assessing crashes, near-crashes, crash-relevant conflicts, operator fatigue and alertness. The study will also track driver road-time and resting/sleeping statuses with electronic logging devices, and will measure and code fatigue levels of drivers using high-tech wristwatches. The drivers will be recruited from both small and large companies, including long haul, regional and short-haul operators.
This will be the largest study of its kind ever performed using commercial vehicle drivers,” Hanowski said.
Since 2004, the trucker HOS rules have permitted 11 hours of driving and three hours of non-driving on-duty time per day. Then in July of 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration installed the latest version of the HOS rules requiring drivers to include two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods in any restart, as well as limiting their use of the restart to once within 168 hours or seven days. The new rules have only sparked feuds between the industry, government and safety advocate groups.
Most truck drivers argue the new rules are simply not in alignment with the reality of their job and only make it more difficult. For many of who drive at night and get off duty in the early morning hours, to take a restart in just 34 hours means spending 52 hours off-duty. The American Trucking Associations have also argued that the 2013 provisions weren’t based on sound research and only created more safety risks by putting drivers on the roads during heavy traffic morning rush hours. Carriers and shippers have also complained that the new rules have compromised productivity and raised their costs. Most importantly, drivers have complained that they’ve been personally affected with fewer miles, less flexible schedules and less pay.
The good news in all of this is that Congress finally listened and suspended the 2013 restart changes in December 2014 and ordered the $4 million study to be completed by the end of the fiscal year, which is September 30th.
Do you think this study will be effective enough to truly determine the reality of doing your job?