The FMCSA today announced the agency has chosen Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to conduct the hours-of-service study.
The $4 million study will examine the “impacts of restart restart breaks on commercial truck drivers’ safety performance and fatigue levels.
On December 16, 2014, Congress passed a spending bill that suspended select provisions of the current restart rules. Congress tasked the FMCSA with studying the effects of the 34-hour restart provisions.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s Center for Truck and Bus Safety will head up the study. The Institute will “track and compare truck driver fatigue and safety performance levels for drivers who take two nighttime rest periods during their 34-hour restart break, and for drivers who take less than two nighttime rest periods during their restart break,” Virginia Tech Transportation Institute states.
The Institute says it will recruit 250 drivers to participate in the on-road study. The Institute’s team will compare drivers’ 5-month work schedules, assessing crashes, near-crashes, fatigue, alertness, health issues, etc.
“We are excited by the opportunity and have assembled a world-class team to lead this landmark study mandated by Congress,” said Richard Hanowski,Virginia Tech Transportation Institute director of the safety center. “A better understanding in which the new Hours-of-Service provisions are being implemented by drivers, and to better quantify fatigue and the relative road safety risk, is an extremely important issue for highway safety. We have an opportunity to perform ground-breaking research that will have impact for decades to come.”
Drivers from small, medium and large fleets will be asked to participate in the study. Electronic logging devices will be used to monitor drivers’ rest/sleeping, driving status. In addition, the drivers will log their levels of alertness and fatigue via “high-tech watches that are worn on their wrists.”
“Truck driver fatigue is a prevalent problem and is a tremendous safety concern on our nation’s highways,” said Thomas A. Dingus, director of the institute and an endowed professor with the Virginia Tech Charles E, Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
“The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is honored to be selected to undertake this study that will help provide the solution. We are privileged to have the resources necessary to help inform policy makers in a collaborative effort to significantly reduce the number of safety-critical events occurring on our roadways.”