Last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that it had granted private carrier a waiver to allow some of its drivers to use either 5/5, 4/6 or 3/7 splits to satisfy their federally required 10 sleeper berth hours per day. This waiver applies to drivers for that company who run electronic logging devices, have at least 26 hours of off-duty home time from Friday night to Saturday night each week and are limited to 10 hours of driving time per day. The agency said this research will determine whether flexible sleeper berth periods will have a significant effect on levels of fatigue or unsafe driving habits compared to today’s 10 consecutive sleeper berth hours.
Similarly, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute announced in December it had received a $2.5 million contract to perform a related study, which will also include Washington State University and SmartDrive.
Driver participants will be studied in groups of 50 in cycles of 90 days. Then, the agency will collect data over five 90-day periods – studying “driver alertness, sleep quantity and changes in health metrics,” according to the agency’s research synopsis.
Kimberly Honn, a researcher at Washington State University, claims “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.”
Although this study is still in its early stages, it is a big step forward for trucking and its truckers.
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