FMCSA concludes new hours of service rule better for safety in its long-awaited study

| January 30, 2014

night truck stopIn its long-awaited field study on the current hours-of-service rule, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has concluded that the two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. period requirements of the 34-hour restart provisions of the rule cause truck operators to drive safer and be better rested.


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The results of the study were released Jan. 30. It was conducted by the Sleep Performance Research Center in Washington State University in Spokane, Wash., and Pulsar Informatics in Philadelphia, Pa.

Researchers studied 106 drivers, ages 24-69, who were studied in two duty cycles and during the 34-hour restarts on each side.

Drivers who did not include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods reported “greater sleepiness, especially towards the end of their duty periods,” than when following the provisions of the current HOS rule, the study says. They also deviated from their lane more often and “exhibited more lapses of attention, especially at night,” the study says.

Also, drivers who didn’t include the two nighttime periods in their restart got most of their sleep during the day, the study says, and spent more time driving and more time driving at night, and most of their on-duty time came at night.

“This new study confirms the science we used to make the hours-of-service rule more effective at preventing crashes that involve sleepy or drowsy truck drivers,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “For the small percentage of truckers that average up to 70 hours of work a week, two nights of rest is better for their safety and the safety of everyone on the road.”


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The study presents different results than research and surveys done by both the American Trucking Associations’ American Transportation Research Institute and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. Both groups released studies in the fall concluding that, in addition to carriers and drivers losing productivity and revenue due to the rules, drivers were less rested on the whole under the current rule than before. Click here to see Overdrive’s coverage of ATRI’s study, and click here to see coverage of OOIDA’s.

The completion of FMCSA’s study has been a point of contention between FMCSA and members of the House responsible for oversight of the agency. The report was supposed to be completed, per the current MAP-21 highway funding law, by Sept. 30, 2013.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) chastised the agency more than once for missing the deadline. He and other representatives also took a stern tone in November with Ferro in a House hearing held to determine the impacts of the hours-of-service rules over the fact the study had not yet been completed.


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Hanna is also the sponsor of a House bill that would overturn the hours rule until the Government Accountability Office could further study the provisions and their impacts on the industry. The Senate has introduced a version of the bill, too.


Of 106 drivers studied in FMCSA’s study, 44 were local drivers, 26 regional and 36 over-the-road, who drove 414,937 miles during the study, while researchers gathered a combined 1,260 days of data.

The drivers wore write activity monitors to record sleep and wake periods and used smartphones to take psychomotor vigilance tests, log fatigue and sleepiness and log sleep, wake and caffeine.

Also, trucks in the study were equipped with data acquisition systems that recorded distance traveled, speed, acceleration, lateral lane position, steering wheel angle, headway distance, fuel use and other paramters.

All trucks in the study were equipped with electronic logging devices, and information from those was also downloaded from carriers.

The tests were conducted between January 2013 and July 2013.

Click here to see the results of the study. 

  • Brian

    Seems like driving at night is the way to go. There’s less traffic!


  • Douglas Morton

    It only cost me about $500 a week in lost wages and threw my whole system off balance. Been driving over 40 years the old way with no problems, now people that don’t drive trucks or work for a living tell me I’m wrong. One recordable accident in that time, long haul and local.

  • Sundowner

    This is insane. I’m done. 30 yrs safe driving. They can train someone to fill my seat. See how long they are willing to make the sacrifices we do for the reduced income.

  • Barney

    Since when does Ann Ferrarro know anything about trucking anyway. She’s just a puppet for the president

  • Shawn McConniel

    Again people making un informed decisions for truckers. I hate driving at night but its much safer with out the idiots on the road. Lets discuss the 14 hours rule that makes you drive while drowsy. I say bring back the old sleeper rule



  • Dave

    I bet if I paid for that study I get a different outcome. Interesting.

  • trucktracy

    Ann knows all she needs , I mean come on, last year she went for a ride with a trucker. How much more experience do you think she needs. By the way that is about as much experience as a lot of these big company newly hired professional drivers have.!!!

  • Hickler Richard

    They change the rules we just learn to play the game better because that’s all it is is a freaking game and don’t worry im good at this game ….STEELBREEZE… IM OUT

  • Ed Wolf

    I am so glad that they came out with this “study” since for over 40 years and somewhere near 3,500,000 miles I have been doing it all wrong and unsafely. I guess that I was just lucky that after all that time I didn’t kill, maim or simply crash myself or in to someone. Thank you to all the powerful and all knowing and obviously highly educated individuals that dreamed up this fiasco to save the world. I am so glad that I will retire soon.

  • henry sena

    the drivers i know don’t pay any attention to what the government want. it does not have drivers do it saftely

  • Screwoff

    The President himself is a Puppet. And the law changed. Big Deal. Who wants to drive at 2 or 4 in the morning. I am just getting home from the bar and getting ready for work around 8. I want to thank them for changing the law.

    Also 11 hours with a 30 minute break. That is a Joke.
    Lets go back to the
    This was Great driving times.
    Ok good luck with less pay drivers. Owe Congress is getting big raises.
    Also hope you follow the Rules cause you will pay the tickets or lose license and go to jail.

  • Bob_Hearns

    I’m with you on the old sleeper rule, Shawn. I knew they were uninformed decision makers as soon as the 14 hour rule was instituted.

  • Jimmy the Greek

    Less cop’s To !

  • MercenaryMan

    Why go thru the fake public comments and DRIVERS INPUT when the FAST will do whatever there paid to do by special interests what a joke

  • norman ott

    No wonder they were tired, they had drive 11 hrs under these new rules.

  • Stormy

    Just reading this makes me fatigued…. Actually it makes me just plain old sick and tired. Haven’t we wasted enough tax dollars on all this nonsense and foolishness? Apparently not because while we were watching the right hand, the left hand was hard at work and even more regs have been passed and the next bunch are behind Curtain #2.

  • gearjammer2000

    after almost 20 years and I lost track of how many millions of miles I had enough of the BS that has become trucking, and hung up the keys!!
    in all that time I had one ticket [Louisiana speed trap] NO accidents, 5 service failures due to weather, 9 DOT warnings, mostly burned out lights, ZERO CSA points, any yet it looks like FMCSA,DOT, and the blowbama government figures I am not professional enough to know when I and not safe to drive.

  • Del Ray Johnson

    Nonsense, I totally agree on the new re-set but let me interpret them in the name of safety most drivers (not all some love the truck stops) get the best rest, sleep AT HOME laying next to something very wet dozing off in it about 2am. So the new re-set starts at the close on business on Friday at 6pm and ends on Monday at 7am dispatch must ROUTE all drivers home by 7pm on Friday no exceptions. We now agree to take the new re-set at home working Monday thru Friday for no less than $1500 weekly makes sense to me. Be safe. . .

  • jim stewart

    This must be the same overly educated “Star Bucks lap top researchers” who dream up 24/7 highway work zones with a reduced speed limit for some thirty plus miles with five hundred feet of actual road construction going on (4-hours out of the 24/7). I’m so very thankful they’ve now solved my nagging problem after forty-seven years of night driving without any chargeable accidents. Well I finally know why I’ve been so tired. OK, here’s a hot flash for them. I’ve always driven at night or the wee hours of the morning. I will continue to do so for my safety and that of the road rage idiots who I may encounter during the peak daylight morning rush hour. Driver it’s really disgustingly sad looking around at what we’ve allowed to happen to the transportation industry today. One shoe doesn’t fit all no matter how hard the government tries to pull it up over the foot in their mouth. Enforcement has finally overstepped their bounds by introducing a whole fiasco of new babysitter laws meant to hold the hand of the ones out here who can’t properly take responsibility for their own actions or who are scared of driving in the dark. If trucks were not meant to drive at night why bother placing lights on them?

  • WCD

    funny how the fmcsa stated in a congressional hearing in September that it had not stated the study, but this article states it was conducted between January and July 2013…. someone is not telling the truth. Also why would the study include local drivers, as they generally go home everyday and don’t sleep in the truck…. Even more, most local drivers operate within the 150 mile rule, therefore the HOS rules that OTR drivers use don’t apply the same to them…… Hmmmm, sounds like a real BS Sham job by Anne Ferro, and the FMCSA

  • Fred Flintstone

    New rules are always hard to accept, it wasn’t just a few years ago a driver fell asleep at the wheel and killed about ten people ramming them from behind killing himself as well in Oklahoma, I completely understand why the public cried about it. There are always hard heads not willing to accept new technology or rules. Dinosours are extinct. Change and be apart or be a dinosaur. If your not making as much money increase your rates, quit hauling cheap freight.

  • easymoney

    10/4 driver I’m retired for 6yrs now I drove for 42 yrs
    DC just wants to make puppets of drivers. Leave it to
    a female with a so called degree. It’s made with the
    same paper you wipe you butt with, if you get my
    drift. I’m glad I’m not trucking any more

  • Bear

    Well I hate to tell u but I have work a lot of wrecks on I 40 for 16 years and most of them have been four wheelers as u all call them that have fell asleep and took out trucks,cars and other people.Most all truck wrecks that we have had were from cars,newer drivers,and I know every thing has a learning carve and let’s not for get the ones don’t speck English

  • bigred

    What a joke!!!

  • Ron C. NY

    Better rested then the old rule I doubt it. What the study doesn’t show is the stress that has been put on all drivers. All drivers, whether independent or company, now being forced to drive at one point with rush hour traffic, the financial stress of costing more time and monies to make your delivery and that load you miss each week.Bureaucrats and politicians are so ignorant when it comes to passing new laws and not listening to the people and organizations that have the knowledge of what really goes on. Not until the money dries up from the lobbyists will anything get done right out of Washington.

  • Dave

    Guess this just proves that those who don’t know a damn thing about trucking, don’t know a damn thing about trucking!! Climb in it for a month and stay on the road day for day. No going home at 5:00 to your house. you deal with exactly what we do for 1 month. Then you tell me these new rules are safer! Until you do something for yourself, you never fully understand. WE ALL UNDERSTAND !!

  • USMC 69-75

    WOW! 106 drivers in a “CONTROLLED” study……means, they had to work/drive according to the study rules. Let the people run according to their own body clocks and throw your study out the window. Everybody has a different clock and different ways of running. You CAN NOT put everybody in the same box, you only create a more dangerous highway, and of course less parking spaces for the tired, because everybody has to shut down at the same time…..means more revenue for the illegally parked!
    Less Government, more freedom, the old rules worked just fine, all they have to do is increase the fines according to the old book, in almost 42 years I got one log book ticket and beat it in court. Just have to know how to use the rules in your favor. KISS, Washington! I remember when it was cheaper to tell the DOT that your left your log book back at the last truck stop, $15.00 fine no point and away you went. Then they increased it to $250.00 and an 8 hour shut down, still beat that using their laws against them., but they did mange to close the windows to where they have everybody by the short hairs, unless you run local and don’t carry one anymore. I laugh at the scale houses. I don’t leave my home state, stay with my 100 mile radius, no IFTA, IRP, or log book… it, sleep in my own bed every night, shower in my own home, and eat at my own kitchen table everyday! I feel sorry for you young guns, Elogs, and all the B/S heading your way. Glad my days are numbered, and I got to enjoy the open road, when it was that….open roads!

  • g

    Yep there is sure a drop in pay…the more the Gov insists that we stop the Truck. Sure we can stop and sleep all the time…much safer that way…however we WILL need Higher PAY for the time we ARE allowed to drive…..Pay the Piper…more SAFETY=More Expensive…….sounds like a business formula…..Higher Rates and More Safety….fine and dandy….Brand New tires….updated equipment= Higher pay is a logical way for ALL the nifty RULES. The PIPER will have to be Paid. Greater Public Safety….will simply Cost MORE Money….rates and wages increase will provide all the Safety the Gov wants…….they are good at increasing the Safety Rules…but NO Mention of PAYING for all this extravagant Bullcrap???? Rose Colored glasses is what they are wearing…..everything has a COST….the trucker is not going to absorb these costs. He will go BROKE.

  • g

    Agreed!!! Bravo…….who needs this Bullcrap??? Local work actually pays just as good as road driver…

  • g

    Government has basically changed trucking to suit their “vision”. Trucking USED to be nearly tolerable…over the road living in a tin box…but NOW trucking is really NOT tolerable….to much WORRY and STRESS from all these new RULES…Plus limiting our PAY…by shrinking hours of service….seems like we will be seeing a Mass Exodus from road driving….the Payoff is really declining and the Headaches are Increasing.

  • Keith Thompson

    to much govt in many people telling us how to drive and when to drive. hang it up liked the old way split the 10 on how i see fit. I am the master of the ship..many million miles of accident free driving,106 people represents the millions of truckers out there.

  • Ed Wolf

    Night time is for sleeping provided you can find a place to park

  • Michael

    This hours of service rule is out of control . I have over 30 years driving and I run when my body says I can not when people tell me to . never one accident No tickets 99% on time delivery . Real drivers know what there doing and know when there safe and when there not . why is this woman trying to do to my industry and what business does she have sticking her nose in it ? I’ll be dam if I’m going to listen to someone that has no experience in trucking at all and let them tell me how to run my truck . they need to go play in someone else’s sand box .

  • USMC 69-75

    Actually under your own authority, it pays better. I’m making about the same as I did over the road years ago, but a lot less miles and hours! I have run over the road and local under my own authority, and I’m speaking from experience.

  • USMC 69-75

    Just like the EPA and all this carp they want on our trucks, that cost more to run, and causes more brake downs! I’ll keep my paid of Classic, and tell them to rub rocks!

  • USMC 69-75

    Well MR. fred…….I’m a “Dinosaur”, haven’t killed anybody yet (that didn’t deserve it), and I don’t haul cheap freight, so try again …..there is always one BOZO that just don’t get it. Go drink some more of that funny colored Kool-aide!

  • USMC 69-75

    Bear, I can attest to that as well! Thank you for your service!

  • USMC 69-75

    That right, instead of resting when you want to, now you have to wait and rest when they tell you to…..sounds like a chain gang to me?

  • Mike

    The FMCSA can go f**k, whoops I meant truck their self. I hope some day Ferro is waiting on something she is in badly need and it’s 2 days late.

  • Richard

    Can someone explain to a non-trucker that if the HOS rules are so effective, why are they waived whenever there is a emergency or natural disaster when the trucks are needed the most? Wouldn’t that be unsafe? The FMSCA seems to disregard their own safety regulations when they know their rules will be noticed by the public as limiting drivers when they are there to help, but punishing drivers otherwise.

  • Freightshaker

    If the government and its bureaucrats have anything to do with anything in real life, its all lies, doomed to fail, but forced on the people ie (obumer care) and B.S. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.