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FMCSA reveals study plan for restart rule

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Washington – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published details about an upcoming study into whether a 34-hour restart rule for commercial motor vehicle drivers improves safety for truckers and commuters.

The study, which was mandated by Congress, will be conducted by researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Congress suspended the restart rule, pending further research, in mid-December. The rule aimed to prevent fatigued driving by requiring truck drivers to take a weekly break of at least 34 consecutive hours, including two stints between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) pushed for the rule to be suspended last June because of concerns that it forced too many trucks on to crowded roads during the morning rush hour. But advocates such as Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said the restart rule was based on “years of scientific evidence” that showed the importance of sufficient rest in preventing driver fatigue – a known cause of deadly crashes.

For the study, researchers plan to measure fatigue and safety performance among drivers who take two overnight rest periods during their 34-hour break, as opposed to drivers who take one overnight rest period during that time.