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3/10/2016 11:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

More Research on Truck Driver Fatigue Needed, Panel of National Researchers Advises

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News

While there is some evidence that truck driver fatigue can increase crash risk, questions remain about effective ways to minimize that risk, according to a new research report from an expert study panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

The panel’s report, requested by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, was intended to gain insights into what researchers know about driver fatigue as well as point to what they don’t know.

The research panel recommended several improvements in data and research methods by FMCSA to support a more comprehensive understanding of the relationships between operator fatigue and highway safety and between fatigue and long-term driver health.

Further study of driver fatigue is critical since from 10% to 20% of the approximately 4,000 fatalities due to truck and bus crashes occur each year involve fatigue, according to the panel of experts in several research fields.

READ THE REPORT: Download here for free

“The FMCSA has several policies and programs to improve highway safety involving large trucks and buses that are based on the current scientific understanding of operator fatigue, its causes, and its consequences,” said the report, which was released on March 10.

One of those policies, hours-of-service regulations for truck and bus drivers, limit the maximum number of hours drivers can work based on the assumption that drivers will have enough time to obtain adequate sleep between shifts and, therefore, will be more alert while driving, the report said.

“However, HOS rules can only limit hours spent working; they cannot require drivers to get adequate sleep and rest while off duty,” according to the 217-page report.

The panel report added that although efforts have been made to assess the percentage of crashes, or fatal crashes, in which fatigue played a key role, “assessment of whether fatigue is a causal factor in a crash is extremely difficult and likely to suffer from substantial error.”

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By Eric Miller
Staff Reporter

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