New regulations likely effective at reducing truck driver fatigue

A new study concludes that the new hours of service regulations are effective at reducing truck driver fatigue, at least in theory.

Being a long-haul truck driver, as the name suggests, often requires long hours behind the wheel. As a result, truck driver fatigue is one of the industry's most common safety concerns. As a result, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented new safety regulations to address this issue in mid-2013. As it has been almost a year since the regulations went into effect, their effectiveness in reducing truck driver fatigue can be assessed, at least preliminarily.

The regulations, which are called hours of service (HOS) regulations, set the rules on how long truck drivers may work before they must rest. Under the new HOS rules, truck drivers may only drive 70 hours per week. Additionally, the new rules require drivers to rest for 34 hours over two consecutive night periods before they may start a new week. This is a significant change from the previous rules, which only required drivers to rest 34 consecutive hours, which did not necessarily result in two night periods of rest.

To see how effective the new rules are, the FMCSA recently commissioned a study from the Washington State University Sleep and Performance Research Center. During the study, two groups of truck drivers were compared. One group had the rest period mandated by the old HOS rules; the other had a two-night rest period as required by the new rules.

The study found that the group of drivers that had a rest period of two consecutive nights between their workweeks reported that they were less tired and were better able to pay attention and maintain their lane position than the drivers in the other group.

Despite the positive results that the new rules have on fatigue, the new changes have not come without controversy. Some groups, primarily trucking company interests, have criticized the rules, claiming that they cause drivers to rest too much resulting in delayed delivery times and decreased profits. However, at this time, there has been no study that substantiates these claims.

Speak to an attorney

It is still too early to tell whether the new rule changes have actually resulted in a reduction of fatigue-related truck accidents. However, if the study's conclusion is correct, it is likely that the new rules' positive effect on driver safety will be reported in time.

In the meantime, if you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, driver fatigue, improper loading or maintenance, or other acts of negligence may be to blame. An experienced personal injury attorney can look into the causes of the accident and ensure that you receive compensation for medical bills, loss of income and other expenses if truck driver negligence was to blame.

Keywords: hours of service, truck accidents, driver fatigue