HOS Restart Study Complete and onto the Analysis Phaseby Jana Ritter - Published: 10/02/2015
Remember that government mandated study that would finally settle the hours of service restart issue? Well, after thousands of days of monitoring 220 truck drivers, the data collection is complete and now researchers are somehow going to comb through it all to determine how certain hours-of-service rules affect fatigue, health and safety.
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The study had been mandated last December after all the upheaval and debate surrounding the new restart provisions implemented in 2013. Trucking industry representatives had made numerous complaints that the regulators had failed to do any such studies before implementing the new rules. Rules such as requiring truck drivers to include two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods in any restart before beginning a new workweek. While regulators had said the “34-hour restart would reduce the excessively long work hours that contributed to truck driver fatigue and accidents, many truck drivers argued that the new rules only increased their risk of accidents by forcing them onto the road during peak traffic hours.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is conducting the study with 220 participating truck drivers from a wide variety of fleet sizes and operations representing more than 3,000 driver duty cycles captured by electronic logging devices. They have been collecting the data over a five-month period and will compare the experiences of drivers working under both the current rules and the suspended 2013 rules. The idea is to make comparative assessments of safety critical events such as crashes, near-crashes, crash-relevant conflicts, operator fatigue/alertness, and short-term health outcomes. The FMCSA must submit the completed study for Congress to assess whether they can reinstate the suspended rules and they plan to do this by the end of the year. Until then, the current rules allow a truck driver to restart his or her weekly duty clock after 34 hours off-duty time.
With the data analysis phase just getting underway, the FMCSA had little to say about what the study is actually going to reveal. “The agency does not have preliminary study findings. However, FMCSA is pleased with the high volume of data collected from participating drivers and expects this data will help inform future activities by the agency as well as the current study,” the FMCSA said in a written statement.