The Hours of Service (HOS) rules will be the subject of an extensive study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute as they have been selected by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The purpose is to restart the provisions for the HOS rules to view their impact and make any recommended changes.
The FMCSA is conducting a study of the 34 hour restart rule by the order of Congress as they stipulated in a bill passed last December that rolled back the restart provisions. About 250 truckers are being sought out for the study and they will be split into two groups. One group will follow the restart rules as they are written now while the other will use the 2013 restart rules.
$4 million has been allocated to conduct the study to see which set of rules works better for truck drivers. Once the study has been completed, the results along with the approval of the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General and the Congress, will establish which set of restart rules will be put into effect for the foreseeable future.
Essentially, the effort will track and compare both sets of drivers in order to study fatigue and safety performance. One group will be able to take two nighttime rest periods during the 34 hour restart break while the other group will take less than that number during their respective restart break.
The drivers themselves will be recruited from all types of fleets and carriers ranging from small to medium to large in terms of their operations. Plus, they will be picked from regional, long-haul and short-haul groups as well in order to provide the best statistical analysis. Even the haul types will vary between flat-bed, dry-van and refrigerated tankers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has conducted studies of this nature before, but this will be the largest one ever overseen by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. They were selected for their knowledge and experience with these types of tests. Monitoring the drivers will be researchers who will track the time on the road and the resting or sleeping status of the drivers through onboard electronic devices that will require being logged in and out when the driver is on duty. The measurements taken will also take into account events that are critical to the safety of the driver as well.
An interesting part of the study is that the fatigue levels of the drivers will be monitored by high tech watches that the drivers will wear upon their wrists. This will allow for constant monitoring so that the most accurate measurements can be made. The point of the study will be to monitor driver fatigue because it remains arguably the biggest safety issues that drivers face. By better understanding driver fatigue, greater safety measures can be instituted.
The Hours of Service (HOS) study will take some time to monitor and complete the study, but the end result promises to either keep the new rules that were recently passed or revert back to the older 2013 rules that many of the drivers have operated under for that time period.