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The Sleep Police Industry calls for delays in fed’s monitoring of drivers’ rest

BY STEVE BRAWNER ContributingWriter

How much sleep does a truck driver need?

When should a driver sleep?Who should monitor a driver’s rest period?Whether it’s the much-discussed hours-of-service rules or still-to-come rules on sleep apnea, the sleep police are keeping their eyes on the trucking industry. Under the latest FMCSA rules, drivers

involved in interstate commerce can be on duty no more than 14 consecutive hours, with no more than 11 spent on the road. The next day begins 10 hours after those 14 hours end.Drivers reaching 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days must stop driving, and they are limited to eight hours of driving between rest breaks of at least 30 minutes. Perhaps the most controversial new rule

involves the 34-hour restart, which has been voluntary since its introduction in 2003. Under the new rule, drivers can wipe all of their hours from their week after 34 consecutive rest hours that must include two nights from 1 a.m. until 5 a.m.Under the old rules, a driver could restart their hours after resting for any 34 consecutive hours. The FMCSA said lab studies had found drivers benefit by having two nighttime sleep periods. DarenHansen, senior editor of

transportation safety with the consulting firm J.J. Keller and Associates, said the new rules mean drivers must be more judicious about when they restart their week. A driver who leaves the road at 7 p.m. Thursday can return exactly 34 hours later at 5 a.m. Saturday. But a driver whose week ends at 3 a.m. Saturday doesn’t get credit for that night’s rest. If he wants to use the restart rule, he must sit out until 5 a.m. Monday – 50 hours after parking the truck. The break can include time in a sleeper berth but can’t include on-duty time. The FMCSA released a study in March

saying the new restart rule is having a positive effect on safety. Researchers compared a total of 106 drivers with two or one nighttime rest periods from January until July 2013. The study reported that those operating under the new


rules had fewer lapses of attention, especially at night; reported less sleepiness, especially toward the end of their duty periods; and deviated less from their lanes. That study is questionable because of the

small number of drivers and because of small differences in the performance levels of those with two rest nights and those with one, said Rebecca Brewster, president and COO of the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), a research group affiliated with the American Trucking Associations. J.J. Keller’s

ISSUE 4, 2014 |

Hansen said the study was limited because it didn’t look at other consequences of the rule. “I don’t think they took a real holistic approach to the study,” he said. FMCSA believes the rule will prevent about

1,400 crashes, save 19 lives, and prevent 560 injuries each year. In a speech before the Transportation & Logistics Council’s 40th Annual Conference inNashville March 17, FMCSA administrator Anne Ferro pointed to a heightened need for safety emphasis in light of a 4 percent increase in large truck crash


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