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Commercial truckers want sleep requirements changed

Jan 25, 2013 - Truck Accidents by

A new study may fuel the commercial trucking industry to dispute the safety benefits of current sleep requirements for commercial truck drivers. Sleep requirements for drivers have long been disputed over the impact it has on commercial truck accidents and public safety.

Current rules by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration require commercial truck drivers to get eight consecutive hours in a sleep berth before they operate a commercial truck. However, a new study sponsored by the FMCSA may end up changing these rules.

The FMCSA said that the current requirements were proposed after studies showed that truck drivers were less likely to be fatigued and dangerous on the road if they got eight hours of sleep at one time versus breaking up their rest times throughout their shift.

The study was done to see if split sleep was as beneficial as consolidated sleep. The study looked at how a driver’s operational performance, health and safety precautions were impacted. The study found that truck driving performance was not significantly affected by when a truck driver slept. Researchers reported that truck drivers performed the same whether they slept at night, during the day or had a split sleep schedule.

The study’s most interesting finding was that when truck drivers are not able to sleep at night, a split sleep schedule is better than sleeping during the day. Researchers concluded that when drivers are not able to get consolidated nighttime sleep, a split sleep schedule is better for drivers than daytime sleep.

The commercial trucking industry is using this study to ask the FMCSA to review their sleep requirements. The FMCSA said that they will revisit their sleep requirements for commercial truck drivers but did not say that current requirements will be revised to reduce sleep requirements for truck drivers.

Source: The Trucker, “Research shows little health difference in consolidated, split sleep periods,” Lyndon Finney, Jan. 17, 2013