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Sleep law change improved truck driver performance, study says

We have talked about truck accidents on this blog before. A few weeks ago, there was a story about a truck driver involved in a fatal wreck -- and that post described the possibility of the truck driver being fatigued or sleepy.

Fatigued or sleepy truck drivers are a major safety concern. Truck drivers routinely work long hours at odd times. Sometimes they work all night, and sometimes they work varying shifts over many days which, in total, make for a scattered sleep schedule. Truck drivers need to obey the sleep laws that apply to them, and trucking companies need to be vigilant in enforcing these laws. Otherwise, truck accidents involving sleepy truck drivers will to be a serious safety concern.

A new law from last year aimed to improve the sleep laws that truck drivers and companies adhere to -- and it appears to be working.

Before the new rule, drivers were only allowed to drive for 60 or 70 hours in the last seven or eight days. The seven- or eight-day period made up one "cycle." These definitions have not changed under the new rule. What has changed is the cycle "reset" period for a driver. Previously, drivers could reset the cycle after being off-duty for at least 34 hours.

However, in order to "reset" a cycle under the new rule, the driver must allow for at least two night periods (defined as 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.). The goal is to allow drivers more time to sleep. A study of the new rules found that of the 106 drivers who participated, drivers with two night periods were less sleepy, more attentive and showed better lane positioning.

Source: Huffington Post, "New Safety Rules For Truck Drivers Effectively Reduce Fatigue," Feb. 3, 2014

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