FMCSA Studies Driver Schedules

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is planning on gathering data and public comments on how commercial vehicle driver schedules impact driver fatigue and highway safety.

The FMCSA is seeking approval to move forward with with the next phase of study on the real world impact of regulations designed to curb driver fatigue. If the agency receives approval, it plans to collect more data on how current Hours of Service regulations affect truck driver performance and fatigue.

The main focus of the study will be to answer the following questions:

  • What is the relative crash risk by hour of driving (e.g.,the number of total crashes by hour/the number of drivers by hour of driving?
  • What is the relative crash risk by hour of driving per week (e.g., the number of crashes by hour of driving/the number of drivers by hour of driving per week)?
  • What is the relative crash risk of driving breaks (e.g., comparison of crash rates for drivers who take no breaks compared to drivers who take one and two 30-minute breaks in one day)?
  • What is the relative crash risk as a function of recovery periods that contain one period between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. compared to two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. and as a function of weekly working hours before and after a 34-hour restart (i.e., compare the relative crash risk of schedules with more opportunities for restorative sleep during the natural circadian low)?
  • How is each of the HOS provisions is being used?

From the FMCSA’s Notice in the Federal Register:

FMCSA needs additional data to answer important questions related to driver schedules and how these factors impact overall driver performance and fatigue. This effort will continue data collection previously initiated in the first phase of the project, and collect additional information to improve FMCSA’s decision-making regarding various aspects of the HOS provisions, how HOS provisions are being used, and the impact of driver schedules on crash risk.

The purpose of the first phase of this project was to pilot test methodologies to collect HOS and crash data from nine carriers. The current effort, titled “Crash Risk by Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Schedules”, will expand the data collection effort to 44 carriers (which accounts for potential carrier attrition) and use these data to analyze how HOS provisions are being used and the impact of driver schedules on crash risk (i.e., determine crash risk ratios for various aspects of the HOS provisions). In Phase I, the research team primarily targeted CMV carriers with more than 1,000 power units. Drivers at the nine participating carriers were involved in a total of 6,318 crashes, including 3,035 preventable, 585 FMCSA-reportable, 195 injuries, and 14 fatal crashes. The electronic logging device (ELD) data from the nine carriers contained a total of 60,933,691 duty entries (i.e., changes in driver duty status) and 4,226,737 total days with log entries (from 36,369 different drivers) over six months (with one carrier submitting data for 12 month). Of the duty entries, there were 25,047,200 driving entries, 2,243,276 sleeper berth entries, 21,668,911 on-duty (not driving) entries, and 9,531,505 off-duty entries. To obtain the statistical power needed to answer the below research questions, the Phase I data set will be combined with the new data collected in Phase II.

Comments on the data collection initiative are being accepted through December 24, 2018. Click here to leave a comment.

This is the latest indication that the FMCSA is poised to make changes to current HOS regulations. In August 2018, the FMCSA requested public comment on several aspects of current Hours of  Service regulations with an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The agency also hosted several listening sessions on HOS regulations during the late summer and early fall.