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Study evaluates safety of trucker hours of service regulations

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As the trucking industry expands to meet the rise in demand of the improved economy, large trucks make up more and more of the vehicles on the roadways in New York. The New York Times has recently suggested federal lawmakers are not doing enough to protect motorists from the hazards of large trucks. Truck driver fatigue, in particular, continues to be a growing problem, and yet the laws that limit how many hours each week a truck driver can be on the road may be increasing, rather than decreasing.

In 2013, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations limited the hours of service of large truck operators to 70 hours over the course of eight days. However, that rule is currently under suspension, allowing truckers to spend 82 hours working each week. According to the FMCSA, this is due to the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, which requires the agency to conduct a study on the effects of the revised hours of service. Of particular concern is how they impact the following:

    •          Operator alertness/fatigue
    •          Safety critical events such as semi truck crash or near-crash incidents
    •          Short-term health effects

Information was gathered from a representative group of truck drivers through questionnaires, on-board cameras, alertness tests and ActiGraph sleep assessment watches.

Researchers are currently analyzing the data collected from March to September, 2015. Independent medical and scientific experts will review the finished report, which will then be submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General in December. After the review, the revised hours of service may be re-enacted.

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