FMCSA begins work on fatigue management study


US truck regulator seeks to find out if fatigue management provisions are effective.

FMCSA begins work on fatigue management study
The FMCSA wants to work with truck drivers to determine if recently suspended fatigue management provisions are effective.

 

The US truck regulator has started laying the groundwork for an investigation into whether recently suspended fatigue management provisions for truck drivers are effective.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is now asking truck drivers and operators to take part in a study that will compare recently suspended rest provisions with those it replaced in 2013.

Congress late last year passed amendments to fatigue management laws to remove two rest and restart limitations on drivers, and the changes took effect on December 16 to reinstate the pre-2013 rules.

Legislators also slotted in an amendment requiring the FMCSA to research if the provisions, which prevented drivers from working between 1am and 5am and limited them to taking one 34-hour restart break a week, were necessary.

The amendments restored the rest requirements that were in place from 2003 to June 2013, a move the American Trucking Associations (ATA) supports.

The FMCSA says its study will measure and analyse the fatigue and safety performance levels of drivers operating under the pre-2013 rules and the ones that were recently shelved.

"Drivers will be paid for their participation and carriers may be compensated for lost revenue due to the study and for the cost of installing data collection equipment on their trucks," the FMCSA says.

Participants will be monitored over five months, with the FMCSA focusing on safety critical events, driver fatigue and alertness levels and driver health.

"The findings will be used to further improve our knowledge of driver fatigue and alertness management," the FMCSA says.

It says it will monitor driver compliance on a daily basis and that drivers will be required to complete one more three-minute alertness tests on a daily basis.

The suspension of the rules is due to expire on September 30, but the ATA says it will push for it to remain in place for a longer period of time.

The association lobbied hard for the removal of the rest and restart provisions and found a supporter in senator Susan Collins, who authored the amendment to the laws.

However, the Obama administration and road safety advocates believe the changes will undermine road safety and lead to truck drivers working longer hours each week.

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook