Regulated Sleep and Truck Driver Fatigue Accidents

Fatigue is a serious issue for many drivers. Lack of sleep can cause a driver to make a number of driving errors, including drifting into the other lane and failing to take evasive action when traffic demands. For truck drivers, economic pressure can push them toward driving in a fatigued state. Hours-of-service regulations exist to encourage drivers to get adequate sleep and avoid truck accidents caused by sleepy drivers. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has been commissioned to conduct a federal study into the impact of regulated sleep schedules.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is working to better understand how sleeping schedules affect driver behavior. The FMCSA contracted the study to monitor long-haul truck drivers who will not be required to adhere to a schedule of consecutive 8-hour blocks of sleep. Video cameras will track the drivers and their progress over the roads while an electronic device will track the drivers’ sleep patterns. The study will examine the behavior of 200 truck drivers. 

Truck driver fatigue has been tied to numerous accidents leading to injuries and deaths. The fatal 2014 crash in which Tracy Morgan was severely injured and a fellow passenger was killed was caused by a truck driver who had been awake for more than 24 hours. The FMCSA lists driver fatigue as a leading factor in large truck crashes.

The study will gather data over the course of a year, with each driver participating for roughly three months. The drivers have not yet been selected and the study isn’t expected to begin gathering data until 2017.

Source: Seattle PI, “Research institute to study truck drivers’ sleep regulations,” 7 January 2016 

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