FMCSA Funds Study to Improve Fatigue Rates Among Truck Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently began funding a study to learn more about the best ways to prevent fatigue in truck drivers. Fatigue is a major cause of truck accidents in Colorado and nationwide.  In the past, the agency has attempted to address fatigue by requiring drivers to limit their total hours on the road per day and to take regular breaks – but the FMCSA and researchers continue to improve these requirements.

FMCSA Funds Study to Improve Fatigue Rates Among Truck DriversThe study is being carried out by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s Center for Truck and Bus Safety.  The institute plans to focus on the 34-hour “restart period” for truck drivers.  Current rules require drivers to spend at least 34 hours off duty between 7-day work weeks.  During the study, researchers will compare the fatigue and safety performance of drivers whose 34-hour restart periods cover at least two nighttime “rest periods” versus drivers whose 34-hour restart periods do not cover nighttime “rest periods.”

Recent research on sleep has found that most people are least able to perform well between 12 am and 5 am.  Even if they do not feel sleepy, researchers have found, their alertness, ability to respond to emergencies, and overall function suffers most during these times of day.  By looking more closely at the performance of truck drivers who rest during these periods versus drivers who do not, researchers hope to determine whether there is a best time of day for drivers to rest.  The findings may prompt new rules about when drivers must rest in order to avoid fatigue and reduce accident risks.