FMCSA concludes truck study, results could lead to future changes

The federal agency recently finished gathering data on habits of truck drivers while on duty. The study is designed to increase the safety of the nation's roadways.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is taking active steps in an effort to reduce the risk of fatal trucking accidents throughout the country. One example of these steps is the current Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Restart Study. Although final results are not yet available, data collection ended in September, 2015.

More on the Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Restart Study

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Restart Study is an effort by the federal agency to address concerns of drowsy driving among commercial truck drivers. The study reviewed work schedules over a span of five months, assessing safety critical events (SCE) like crashes and near-crashes as well as overall fatigue. Work schedules of those operating with a one night rest period were compared to those scheduling a rest after two or more nights of driving. The study also took into consideration the differences between those who take off less than 168 hours before restarting compared to those who take off a longer period of time.

Data for this study was gathered from many sources. Examples include electronic logging devices used to keep a record of the drivers' time on duty, psychomotor vigilance tests used to measure the alertness of the driver, actigraph watches used to determine if the driver is falling asleep, cameras used to record driver alertness and SCEs as well as questionnaires used to measure stress, amount of time spent sleeping, caffeine consumption and sleepiness. Over 220 drivers participated in the study, allowing data collection during completion of normal operations.

Data collection with the study ended in September of 2015. FleetOwner, a website designed to provide business news about the trucking industry, reports that the federal agency is "'pleased' with the restart study data." An official report is scheduled to be released by the FMCSA in December of 2015. The federal agency was careful to note that preliminary study findings are not yet available, but the high volume of data collected from drivers who participated in the study will likely be valuable towards guiding "future activities by the agency."

Truck accidents

Increasing the safety of trucks on the nation's roadways is an important task. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were 3,921 people fatally injured in truck accidents in 2012 with an additional 104,000 injured. The FMCSA likely intends to reduce these numbers in the future with the use of programs like the one noted above. However, even with these efforts accidents happen. Those who are injured in a truck accident may be entitled to compensation to help cover the costs associated with the accident. Liability could rest with the driver if reckless or negligent, the trucking company if policies push drivers to work past regulations or the manufacturer of the truck if there was a defect. Contact an experienced car accident attorney to explore these options on your behalf and better ensure that your legal rights and remedies are protected.