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Study For Duty Hours and Sleeper Berth Flexibility

Study For Duty Hours and Sleeper Berth Flexibility

FMCSA announced that it will be conducting a study to gather more information about the drivers’ sleeping hours and the sleeper berth flexibility variability. For this specific study, the authority plans to engage at least 200 truckers, who are operating under different sleep schedules and cycles. For example some of them engage in split sleep cycles, while others are regular sleepers. The FMCSA has taken on quite a challenge to determine the safety of the trucking operations, by accessing the truckers’ viability.

The main objective is to find out if the driver’s operation will be safer with the split segments or the current official duty requirement that mandates that each driver should complete a consecutive 10-hour shift before they can rest. However, according to the current rules the driver is allowed to take a limited break of 2 hours or a split period of 8 hours. Fleet owners, drivers and owner-operators have argued with the agency on that matter for quite a long time, and have advocated the need for allowing the truckers to specify their own off duty timings and how they divide it.

Researches on split sleep cycles were conducted to back their proposal in 2010 and 2011, and the recent study is also a link in the upcoming decisions regarding drivers’ sleep cycles. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute made an announcement in December 2015 that it has been chosen to conduct the study and has been granted a $2.5 million contract to perform the study. This evaluative research will also include Washington State University and driver video-monitoring system provider SmartDrive as researchers. FMCSA also hope to recruit 200 truck drivers, from long-haul, small and medium sized fleet companies, to participate in the research.

However, the study is still in its initial stages and there are still some hurdles that will be cleared before it is formally launched and drivers are recruited to take part in it. According to the FMCSA website, the pilot program will be preceded by its website, which will be launched in September, 2016. The agency didn’t specify when the study will initiate or when the relevant results will be posted or made public. The timeline for this research is vague and there is still a lot of time before any conclusions will be made, regarding the driver sleep cycles.

FMCSA has laid down some facts about how the research will be conducted. Driver participants will be studies in groups of 50 during a time period of 90 days and the data collected over that period will be evaluated by the scientist involved in the study.

However, the agency also specified that if the results are inconclusive during the 90-day period then it will prolong the time period to another 90 days and the data collection period could stretch up to a year.

The researchers will encourage the participants to wear portable devices, to record data on sleep patterns and driver behaviors, driver alertness, quantity of sleep and changes in health variables. Regarding the study, Kimberly Honn, a researcher at Washington State University said, “This study will examine the safety impact of providing participating drivers the opportunity to use a ‘sleep when you are sleepy’ strategy to manage their individual fatigue.” – See more at:

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