The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), Arlington, Va., released the results of a new study that investigated safety and operational impacts from the 34-hour restart provisions.
In this latest of an ongoing series of Research Tech Memos, ATRI analyzed an extensive truck GPS database to identify changes in truck travel by time of day and day of the week that may have occurred after the July 1, 2013 change to the Hours of Service (HOS) restart provisions. ATRI also examined several years or pre- and post-July 1 federal truck crash data to quantify safety impacts resulting from the HOS rules change implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Washington, D.C.
The truck GPS data analysis identified a shift of truck traffic from nighttime to daytime and a shift of truck traffic away from the weekends to more congested weekdays, with the biggest decreases in truck activity occurring on Sunday nights.
The crash data analysis showed a significant increase in truck crashes after the July 1, 2013 rule change, specifically with injury and tow-away crashes. In particular, the increase in injury and tow-away crashes would be expected based on the shifting of trucks to more congested weekday travel due to increased traffic exposure.
The crash increases and operational shifts would also be independent of overall economic improvement since the statistical tool utilizes percentage change, and tonnage growth percentages over the 2-year period were relatively constant. In addition, truck unit position points are a better indicator of physical truck movements than freight volumes.
ATRI's report features some possible explanations for the GPS and crash data findings as a result of operational changes the industry made post-July 1, 2013. Among these are:
- Drivers abandoning use of the more restrictive 34-hour restart in favor of the rolling recap.
- Expanded use of weekend productivity by drivers, particularly Friday into early Saturday driving.
- Earlier weekend dispatches for drivers to avoid disruptions to early week (Monday-Tuesday) operations.
"After many years of crash decreases, everyone knows our industry has experienced an uptick in crashes," says Dean Newell, member of ATRI's Research Advisory Committee and vice president, safety of Maverick USA, Inc., North Little Rock, Ark. "This latest analysis from ATRI validates both changes in operations and crash risk that seem to be associated with the restart rule. Regulations should serve to improve safety, not create additional safety risks."