Restart study data collection phase completed

By Land Line staff | 10/1/2015

The first step in completing a congressionally mandated study on the voluntary 34-hour restart provision is complete.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced on Sept. 30 that the data collection phase was complete and that the research team was pleased with the amount of data collected.

The study team collected data to compare five-month work schedules of drivers to assess safety critical events – crashes, near-crashes, and crash-relevant conflicts – operator fatigue/alertness, and short-term health outcomes of drivers who operate under the HOS restart provisions in effect between July 1, 2013 and Dec. 15, 2014, and those drivers who operate under the provisions as in effect prior to July 1, 2013.

More than 220 drivers participated in the study. Data collected included 3,000 driver duty cycles captured by electronic logging devices; 75,000 driver alertness tests; and 22,000 days of driver sleep data.

The data analysis has begun, and FMCSA officials anticipate completing the final report by the end of the year.

The study was mandated by an amendment to the 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations legislation that was signed into law in December 2014.

The amendment, introduced by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, suspended the requirements that a voluntary 34-hour restart include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. overnights during the restart and would allow more than one restart in a seven-day period.

The changes to the voluntary restart provision were to remain suspended until FMCSA completed a study – with input from the Office of Inspector General – to see if the changes were justified.

The amendment also contains a lengthy detailing of how the study will be conducted, peer reviewed and approved by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.

Even though the annual appropriations language that mandated the suspensions and the study expired Sept. 30 and is being extended by continuing resolutions, the changes to the voluntary restart provision will stay in place until the mandated study is completed, Land Line learned in late September.

When the study was in the collection phase, a spokesman with FMCSA confirmed that until a final report on the findings is issued, the voluntary restart provisions will remain as is.

As added protection on the voluntary restart provision, language is included in the 2016 appropriations Transportation Housing and Urban Development bill that passed the House and is currently in the Senate. It would continue the current provision if the Department of Transportation cannot prove to Congress that the once-per-week restriction and mandated two overnight periods actually improved safety on the roads.

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