ADMINISTRATOR FOR MOTOR CARRIERS
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
ON SURFACE TRANSPORTATION AND MERCHANT MARINE
FATIGUE IN THE
AND TRUCKING INDUSTRIES
Madam Chairman and
Members of the Subcommittee, I am George Reagle, Associate Administrator
for Motor Carriers at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). I would
like to thank you for the opportunity to testify before this
Subcommittee on driver fatigue, an issue of great importance to us all.
safety is high priority for your Subcommittee, so well demonstrated with
the passage of the "Transportation Equity Act for the 21st
Century" (TEA-21), and it is a high priority for us at the
Department of Transportation. Our dedication to safety is reflected in
our Strategic Plan, where we resolve to reduce the number of
transportation crashes, focus on human performance and behavior to
improve safety, and promote new technologies for safety.
To meet these
safety objectives, the FHWA has many serious efforts underway -- in
research, in safety applications, in enforcement, and in safety
education -- and I hope there may be further opportunities to discuss
all of these issues with your Subcommittee. But, today our focus is on
commercial driver fatigue. I would like to share with you what the FHWA
is accomplishing in driver alertness research and outreach and comment
on the hours-of-service (HOS) rulemaking we have undertaken at the FHWA.
use the term "fatigue" as shorthand for the various complex
states of sleepiness, drowsiness, and low-alertness. One well-known
British scientist, Ivan Brown, defines "fatigue" as the
decreased capability of doing physical or mental work, or the subjective
state in which one can no longer perform a task effectively. But, no
scientist can really measure "fatigue" per se. What they can
measure is how alert people are, how they perform tasks that require
sustained attention, hand-eye coordination, and responses to changes in
their environment. Scientists also can measure changes in how the body
functions -- changes in brain wave patterns, changes in eyelid position,
changes in head position--that reflect how alert or how drowsy a person
is. So today, to be as accurate as possible, I will use the terms
"alertness" and "drowsiness."
the Drowsy Driver Problem
Of course, the
problem of the drowsy driver is not just about commercial drivers. Last
year the New England Journal of Medicine told us that drowsiness is a
pervasive problem with all drivers, citing polls that have found that up
to 56 percent of the general public drives while drowsy -- with a cost
to society of more than $12 billion a year from related crashes. Other
researchers say that nearly one-half of Americans have difficulty
sleeping. Those who have one type of sleep disorder referred to as
"sleep apnea" were found to be involved in three times as many
auto accidents as the rest of the population.
To investigate the
role of drowsiness in crashes, we first turn to crash data. Although
many factors contribute to crashes, the data point to the driver as a
critical contributor. Unfortunately, current crash data cannot tell us
enough about the driver's state of alertness at the time of the crash.
Crash-related factors are recorded at the scene by a police officer, and
it is difficult for an investigating officer to determine, after the
fact, if loss-of-alertness played a role. Involvement in a crash is
likely to eliminate any signs of drowsiness in a driver if the driver
survives the event. In addition, loss-of-alertness may play a secondary
role, contributing to recognition errors--such as distraction or
inattention-- that might be cited on a crash report.
drowsiness is cited as a contributing factor in a relatively small
percentage of truck crashes, the FHWA believes it actually plays a
larger role than the data indicate because of the difficulty in
accurately identifying signs of drowsiness after a crash.
Between 1992 and
1996, combination-unit trucks were involved in an annual average of
3,132 fatal crashes, 13.6 percent of which (427) were fatal to the truck
driver only. Drowsiness was cited as a driver-related factor in 11
percent of the cases where the truck driver was the sole fatality, and 1
percent of the cases where someone other than the truck driver died. The
figures appear even smaller for non-fatal combination-unit truck
crashes, about 0.5 percent of which appear to be related to drowsiness.
based on analyses of crash cases often consider driver loss-of-alertness
to be a factor in more crashes than the national statistics indicate.
However, concerns have been raised about how these results can be
generalized to all truck crashes. In one frequently cited 1995 study,
the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) examined 107
single-vehicle roadway departure crashes where the truck driver survived
and no other vehicle was involved. The NTSB found that 58 percent of
these crashes were fatigue-related. The study specifically focused on
crashes where driver drowsiness was likely to be a contributing factor
and it focused on only one type of crash. Another NTSB study, completed
in 1990, drew data from 182 fatal-to-the-driver truck and bus crashes in
8 States. Driver fatigue was implicated as a causal factor in 31 percent
of these crashes.
Research at the FHWA
Even though crash
data are not conclusive, other areas of analysis are giving us useful
new information about fatigue. The "human factors" involved in
transportation crashes, particularly driver alertness, form a major area
of study for the FHWA and the Department's other transportation modes.
The FHWA currently has more than 15 studies on driver alertness
underway, and we are conducting these from a "One-DOT"
perspective. We actively participate with the other modes on a Fatigue
Working Group and a Human Factors Coordinating Committee.
The FHWA's Driver
Fatigue and Alertness Study (DFAS) -- completed in January 1997, is the
most comprehensive over-the-road study on commercial driver alertness
ever conducted. The DFAS was both a public-private and an international
partnership. In addition to the funding provided by the FHWA, the
Trucking Research Institute (TRI) of the American Trucking Associations'
Foundation and Transport Canada funded significant portions of the data
collection and analysis effort. The TRI, the National Private Truck
Council, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association -- all provided
considerable input in public forums. These organizations, as well as the
Canadian Trucking Association and the Private Motor Truck Council of
Canada, helped recruit motor carriers and drivers and provided technical
and operational support to the research effort. Over-the-road data was
collected both in the U.S. and Canada. Three major for-hire motor
carriers in the U.S. and Canada had drivers "on the road"
under two types of 10-hour schedules (in the U.S.) and two types of
13-hour schedules (in Canada).
The study had
measurable relationships between CMV driver activities and
physiological and psychological indicators of fatigue and reduced
To identify and
evaluate the effectiveness of those alertness-enhancing measures
that legally may be used by CMV drivers. Approximately 500 drivers
were surveyed in 4 locations (West Coast, East Coast, Midwest,
To provide a
scientifically valid basis to determine the potential for revisiting
the current HOS requirements, which have been essentially unchanged
for more than 50 years.
Today, I will not
go into detail about the study design, method and results, but I have
attached to my testimony a comprehensive summary of the study for the
Let me describe
the major study findings:
We found that
time-of-day had more influence on alertness than cumulative time on
duty. Drowsiness was found more likely to occur when driving between
midnight and dawn than at other times;
The drivers in
the study did not get enough sleep compared to their
"ideal" sleep needs. Drivers obtained an average of about
two hours less sleep than their daily "ideal" sleep;
self-assessments of their alertness did not correlate well with
objective performance measures; the drivers had a tendency to rate
themselves as more alert than the performance tests indicated; and
significant differences among the study drivers in levels of
alertness and driving performance.
One of the most
important things we learned from the Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study
-- and from several other studies we have reviewed -- is that the amount
of time spent performing a task is
by any means the only
factor affecting a person's alertness. Many research studies have only
examined the amount of time a person performed a task such as driving a
car, operating a driving simulator, or using a radar screen. Some of
these studies tested participants during the same period of time every
day. Others varied the test times, but did not gather information on
when the participants slept. The bottom line is this: while "time
an important contributing factor to a person's
level of alertness, the time of day a task is performed seems to be even
Of course, the
other side of this issue is sleep. The time of the day or night a person
sleeps, the amount of sleep a person obtains, and the quality of sleep
-- all affect our alertness.
Many studies of
shift workers point to reports of problems getting enough sound sleep
during the daytime. The long-distance truck or bus drivers' working
schedules turn many of them into long-distance shift workers. They have
to contend with irregular sleep and wake cycles and face the challenges
of finding a safe place to park and sleep. Team drivers also must
contend with sleeping in a moving vehicle.
We also have a
great deal of work underway to develop ways to detect driver drowsiness
through changes in driving patterns, body functions, and alertness
levels. Much of this work is co-sponsored by the FHWA and the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in their research and
development and intelligent transportation systems programs. We are
exploring the full spectrum of preventing loss of alertness by giving
drivers the tools to help them self-monitor their wake and sleep cycles.
We are exploring devices installed on the vehicle, or worn unobtrusively
by the driver, to monitor or predict changes in alertness and
performance. These can give the drivers an early and reliable warning in
time for them to safely pull over and take a nap.
One of the most
promising studies is a project the FHWA, the Federal Aviation
Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Department
of the Army are co-sponsoring to study the effects of different
"doses" of sleep on driver performance. We hope to use results
from this study to improve an activity- and sleep-monitoring device
developed by the Army -- the Actigraph. It is about the size of a
wristwatch and it may be able to predict the wearer's alertness based on
prior sleep and wake patterns.
is a key component in the new ITS Intelligent Vehicle Initiative (IVI).
Plans are underway for an operational test of continuous driver
monitoring systems as well as other on-board monitors. Both the FHWA and
the NHTSA are cooperating in this initiative.
The FHWA believes
all these studies will yield valuable insight into the problem of the
drowsy driver, support development of effective countermeasures, and
help us determine the changes that may be needed to the current
hours-of-service regulations. Ultimately, we believe this research will
improve our ability to take preventative action to keep crashes from
in Infrastructure to Help Drivers Keep Alert
The FHWA also is
investing in roadways that can alert the drowsy driver. Continuous
shoulder rumble strips have generally been shown to reduce the rate of
"run off road" crashes by 20 percent or more. On highways with
extremely monotonous driving conditions, such as freeways in the desert
Southwest, reductions in "run off road"crashes rates as high
as 50 percent may be expected. Because of these crash reductions,
shoulder rumble strips have been widely installed on the Interstate and
other roadway systems by many highway agencies. The recently approved
AASHTO Strategic Highway Safety Plan also calls for States to
"retrofit the rural interstate and other fatigue-prone facilities
with shoulder texture treatments" over the next 3-4 years.
Under the National
Highway System Designation Act of 1995, highway rest areas are eligible
for 100 percent Federal funding. Adequate and safe parking for
interstate motor carriers is essential to helping drivers get the
quality sleep they need to stay alert. The FHWA is taking an active role
in addressing the shortage of safe rest areas for drivers and will
devote a special day to this issue in December this year in conjunction
with the second Truck and Bus Safety Summit. Pursuant to TEA-21, the
FHWA also will conduct an assessment of the availability of commercial
parking spaces on the National Highway System.
technology will not reduce drowsy driving without a parallel education
effort to let drivers know how they can protect themselves. The FHWA,
industry, the American Trucking Associations' (ATA) Foundation, the
National Private Truck Council, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance,
and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have collaborated to improve
truck drivers' knowledge and understanding of alertness, the conditions
and practices that improve sleep, sleep apnea, and ways to reduce the
risk of drowsy driving. This outreach effort is designed to reach
commercial drivers, dispatchers, risk managers, and shippers to explain
current knowledge about alertness and effective countermeasures.
At the direction
of the Congress, the FHWA, the ATA Foundation, and its outreach
specialists have worked together to produce and distribute to 1,000
radio stations nationwide "Awake at the Wheel" public service
announcements (PSAs) that provide tips from truck drivers to help all
drivers reduce the risk of drowsy driving. We estimate that the PSAs
have reached almost a billion listeners.
Together, we also
produced and distributed "Awake at the Wheel" brochures, with
the ultimate goal of placing the brochure in the hands of every
commercial vehicle driver in the country.
The Alert Driver
was developed and distributed
to 35,000 motor carriers. This package is aimed at truck drivers and
their families and contains useful information on sleep, alertness, and
how families can help drivers maintain alertness through proper rest.
A "train the
Fatigue and the Truck Driver,
developed and training sessions were presented to 100 instructors
throughout the country. The instructors received detailed information on
the latest scientific information on sleep, alertness, and
The FHWA also
provided technical advice to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers
Association Foundation for a video for its members, "Dealing with
Truck Driver Fatigue." The FHWA is working with the Private Fleet
Management Institute of the National Private Truck Council to develop a
fleet-based driver wellness program.
We believe this
alertness outreach has been successful, but we know more needs to be
done in the future. In 1999, we plan to embark on a new fatigue
education initiative, involving more partners and reaching an even
broader audience with our alertness messages.
One of the
objectives of the research effort I have outlined today was to determine
whether to revisit the FHWA's hours-of-service regulations. The maximum
amount of time that commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers may drive
their vehicles is specified in regulation, and these regulations apply
to over 425,000 motor carriers and over 8 million CMV drivers. Every
year the number of new carriers and drivers increases.
Federal hours-of-service regulations, CMV drivers may drive up to 10
hours after a mandatory 8-hour minimum off-duty period. They also may
not drive after being on-duty for 15 hours (including up to 10 hours of
driving) after a mandatory 8-hour off-duty period. They cannot drive
after having been on-duty 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days if the
motor carrier does not operate vehicles every day of the week or after
70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the carrier operates
vehicles seven days a week. These regulations apply almost universally
to the entire interstate motor carrier industry. In fact, one criticism
of the current rules is that the "one-size fits all" approach
is outdated and can no longer be enforced effectively.
regulations were originally developed in the 1930's by the former
Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to establish minimally acceptable
operating practices for driver scheduling. In 1938, the ICC requested
the U.S. Public Health Service to conduct an investigation into CMV HOS
in interstate commerce. This was the first scientific study to address
driver alertness as related to HOS. The Public Health Service study
supported the need for regulatory limitation of HOS to help ensure
highway safety. In 1967, the ICC's responsibilities concerning motor
carrier safety were transferred to the Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety
(now the Office of Motor Carriers) of the FHWA, an agency within the
then newly-created U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
their duty status and driving time in a logbook. Our regulations allow a
carrier to substitute an automatic on-board recorder for the logbook.
When roadside inspections were performed in 1996 we found that
approximately 62 percent of the driver out-of-service violations
discovered were related to hours-of-service and logbooks. On-site
reviews of carrier management practices and safety compliance indicate
that 18 percent of total citations issued to motor carriers relate to
hours-of-service and logbooks. In other words, compliance with
hours-of-service and logbooks represents a important issue for the
The FHWA is
exploring innovative ways to improve compliance with hours-of-service
and logbooks in cooperation with industry on a voluntary basis. We
believe Global Positioning Satellite technology and complementary safety
management computer systems are capable of providing a proactive,
"real-time" approach to monitoring and controlling drivers'
hours. In April of this year, we announced a pilot demonstration project
to record and monitor drivers' hours of service through this electronic
process in lieu of complying with the handwritten driver log
requirements. Werner Enterprises of Omaha, Nebraska, became the first
motor carrier to enter into an agreement to participate in the project.
By July, over 5,000 Werner drivers were operating without the paperwork
burden associated with paper log books. Instead, their hours-of-service
are maintained electronically.
With the new
authority to conduct innovative pilot programs that was provided under
TEA-21, we expect the FHWA will be asked to carefully consider other
ways to maintain safety and reduce the paperwork burdens of compliance.
Should we change
hours-of-service? How should they be changed?
We have posed that
question to the transportation community in an Advance Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking on HOS issued in November 1996, pursuant to a
requirement set forth in the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination
Act of 1995. This action began a process that will likely result in the
first major changes to the HOS in nearly 60 years. The rulemaking
addresses the potential for both conventional HOS rules and alternatives
that allow carriers the flexibility to tailor individualized programs
for themselves. The ultimate goal of this rulemaking is to enhance
driver and public safety and enhance CMV productivity.
When the comment
period closed in June 1997, we had received over 1,600 comments. We are
currently reviewing the comments and examining dozens of research
reports cited and provided by the public. The Secretary has made a
commitment to complete the rulemaking in the year 2000.
hours-of-service rulemaking activities will follow two parallel tracks.
First, the agency will use contemporary scientific research to help us
develop proposals for limits on duty-hours, and minimum off-duty hours,
to help ensure that the drivers of CMVs are alert, well-rested, and
ready to drive safely.
Second, as new
drowsiness-detection technologies are developed and tested in the lab,
we will carefully assess them and consider how they might be used to
augment --or possibly, even substitute for--conventional HOS
regulations. Of course, we must analyze any technologies to ensure they
provide credible assurance of safe operating and scheduling practices
and are accurate and reliable. We are now conducting these analyses.
As the FHWA
analyzes the docket comments to its Advance Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking on the issue of drivers' hours-of-service regulations, we are
keeping in mind the concern that "one size does not fit all."
We are taking the opportunity this rulemaking presents to analyze the
latest scientific research on loss of alertness, circadian rhythms, and
other factors. Our goal is to develop a proposed rule that can be
tailored to the demands of the different operations that exist in the
diverse industries that rely on commercial motor vehicles and the people
who drive them.
There are no
simple answers to questions about driver alertness. There have been many
changes in the motor carrier industry since HOS rules were first
implemented in 1938. These changes clearly have warranted a new look at
Vehicles have been
improved, with better ride characteristics and climate control to
enhance driver comfort and alertness. Highway pavements and geometrics
are better designed and built with safety in mind. Yet, in the current
competitive business environment, shippers make more demands for on-time
delivery. Driver pay issues increase the tension about hours-of-service.
Congested highways place new demands on a driver's attention and impose
delays on cargo pick-up and delivery.
Our HOS rulemaking
will address many of these issues. It is a deliberate process, designed
to identify and analyze the costs and benefits of any change. We look
forward to working with the Committee on this very important issue and
welcome your comments and questions.