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Revised hours of service for truckers under federal scrutiny

Many truckers on Tennessee roads drive when they are tired. The problem has attracted national attention, and some efforts have been made to curb this behavior. Because many are paid by the mile instead of being guaranteed an hourly wage, drivers may be tempted to complete a shift, even when sleepiness is a problem. According to ABC News, a driver who followed the federal standard for rest times ended up with a schedule that resulted in a lack of adequate sleep before a long shift on the road.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the government agency that enforces an hours-of-service regulation. These guidelines require drivers to take rest breaks and limits the number of hours they can be on the road to 11 per day.

Recently, the FMCSA suspended the regulations that made two nights of rest mandatory during a work week, and began conducting a study so it could determine that schedule’s effectiveness. Some truckers continued to follow the original hours of service with one night off and a total of 82 hours on the road each week, while others rested for at least two nights and only drove for 70 hours. Information about the levels of alertness, overall health and hazards such as near crashes and crashes was collected using the following:

  •          Onboard cameras
  •          Surveys and tests
  •          Sleep assessment technology
  •          Electronic devices tracking actual time on the road

When the outcome of the study is available, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the FMCSA will re-assess the situation to determine which schedule is better at preventing driver fatigue and truck accidents. 

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