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Study finds little difference in restart models

Posted: March 11, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – New research finds little difference between the performance of drivers who take one- or two-night restarts in Hours of Service, but still finds some extra benefit to a 34-hour restart.

The study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that drivers using either a one-night or two-night restart periods had similar average working hours, average hours in duty periods, average numbers of safety critical events per 100 hours of instrumented driving time, average psychomotor vigilance test response speeds, and average subjective stress scores. But the 34-hour (two-night) resets gave drivers a chance to achieve the time and quality of sleep needed to recover from fatigue and reduce stress, the study adds.

The affects of safety and fatigue were seen as relatively the same whether drivers had more or less than 168 hours between rest periods.

Researchers looked at five-month work schedules and reviewed events like crashes, near crashes, operator fatigue/alertness, and short-term health outcomes. The report has now been submitted to the U.S. Congress.

“The release of this report closes what has been a long, and unnecessary, chapter in our industry’s drive to improve highway safety,” said American Trucking Associations president Chris Spear. “We knew from the beginning that these Obama administration restrictions provided no benefit to safety, and in light of the DOT’s findings – corroborated by the DOT Inspector General – it is good for our industry and for the motoring public that they will be done away with permanently as specified by language ATA lead the charge on including in the most recently passed Continuing Resolution.”

The FMCSA recruited drivers from fleets of all sizes and various operations like long-haul, flatbed, reefer, tank, and dry van to participate in the study.

Data was collected from the following sources and methods:

  • Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to track driver time.
  • Psychomotor vigilance tests to assess alertness.
  • Actigraph watches that assess sleep.
  • Camera-based onboard monitoring systems to capture events like crashes or near crashes and driver alertness.
  • Smartphone-based self-reports that measured sleepiness, stress, hours slept, and caffeine intake. 

– The original version of this article has been edited and updated to include comments from ATA president Chris Spear.

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