The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute recently launched a study of truck driver fatigue and safety performance with funding from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Researchers at the Institute’s Center for Truck and Bus Safety will focus on the relationship between rest periods and driver performance in the study, currently called the Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Restart Study.
Currently, truck drivers are required to take a 34-hour “restart period” at the end of each work week. During the restart period, they may not drive or be on duty, and they are expected to get needed sleep.
This study recruits approximately 250 truck drivers in order to examine their restart period habits, fatigue levels, and safety performance on the road. Researchers plan to examine drivers’ rates of crashes, near-crashes, fatigue and alertness, and other measures of short-term health over a period of five months.
Central to the study is the question of whether drivers who sleep during the “nighttime rest periods” of 12 am to 5 am perform better on the road than drivers who do not sleep during these periods. Recent research on sleep indicates that most human beings perform at their worst in emergency situations during this time of day, and that they perform better at other times if they have slept between 12 am and 5 am. However, this research has not been examined within the specific context of truck driver performance to determine whether truckers ought to prioritize sleeping in the early morning hours in order to avoid crashes on the road.
Experienced Dallas truck wreck attorneys know that fatigue is one of the biggest causes of truck accidents. They hope the study will help the FMCSA find better ways to combat fatigue and lower big rig crash rates nationwide.