OOIDA cautiously optimistic about study of 34-hour restart

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 3/20/2015

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s study of truckers’ hours-of-service restart provisions will compare crashes, near crashes, fatigue levels, alertness and short-term health outcomes among the voluntary participants, according to the latest information released about the study. OOIDA leadership remains cautiously optimistic that the study will point out some of the issues that truckers face in the real world.

Congress directed the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to do the Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Restart Study after debating the 34-hour restart provision in a 2015 appropriations bill.

The study will compare five months of effects among two groups of drivers – one group operating under provisions of the July 1, 2013, changes to hours-of-service regulations that require two overnight rest periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. and one group operating under the previous HOS regs that require one overnight rest period during the restart.

Volunteer participants are being compensated for their time in exchange for being equipped with dash cameras – one pointed at the driver and one pointed at the facing roadway – a device worn on the wrist that measures fatigue and an electronic logging device in the truck. Participants must also maintain sleep diaries and caffeine logs and perform daily assessments on their smartphones.

“It is expected that the two groups of drivers operating under the two restart conditions will overlap, and consequently a paired study design will be used given its statistical power,” the DOT stated on its study website.

“The study will also analyze the safety and fatigue effect on those drivers who have less than 168 hours between their restart period and those drivers who have at least 168 hours between their restart periods,” the DOT stated.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer says the Association has some concerns with the study, but will watch with interest as it plays out.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that the real issues that truckers have to contend with in meeting delivery schedules and driving at the most appropriate times will come out of this,” Spencer told “Land Line Now” on Friday, March 20.

“We’re concerned with the makeup of the study primarily because most of trucking is small business and the characteristics of the previous one that they looked at were bigger carriers.”

Spencer says the real issue for many drivers is timing. When does it make sense to drive?

The $4 million study is being conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s Center for Truck and Bus Safety.

The center says it will be the largest study of its kind ever performed. The goal is for the center to recruit and study an estimated 250 truckers.

Upon completion, the institute will deliver the results to the U.S. DOT and Congress.

“Does it make sense to drive when roads are less congested, less cluttered, or does it make sense to drive when they’re more crowded and more congested?” Spencer asked. “That makes a big difference in how you operate.”

“Land Line Now” Senior Correspondent Terry Scruton contributed to this story.

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