ATRI: Restart Rule Unintentionally Raised Crash Risk

April 29, 2015

By David Cullen

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HDT File Photo

An American Transportation Research Institute study, released on April 29, indicates that the 34-hour restart provisions (which currently remain under suspension) had a negative impact on motor-carrier safety when they were in effect by driving up truck crash risk.

The results of ATRI’s analysis “appears to support the contention that the July 1, 2013 restart rule did, in fact, have the outcome intended by FMCSA; that being the shift of truck trips from nighttime driving to daytime driving,” stated the authors, Daniel Murray, vice president of research, and Jeffrey Short, senior research associate.

“However, the unintended consequence of higher numbers of crashes at other points in the driving schedule also appears to have occurred,” they continued. “What is presently not known is whether the net direct costs of the post-July 1 crashes are higher than any ostensible benefit that might be associated with the driving shifts [that resulted from the rule change].”

“Regulations should serve to improve safety, not create additional safety risks."

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 made to the hours-of-service restart provisions by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The group also examined several years of pre- and post-July 1 federal truck crash data to quantify safety impacts resulting from the HOS rules change.

Per the authors, 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.

What’s more, the analysis revealed a statistically 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 authors argued that overall economic improvement is not the cause of the crash increases and operational shifts because the statistical tool used percentage change, and tonnage growth percentages over the two-year period were relatively constant. They also said that truck unit-position points are a better indicator of physical truck movements than freight volumes.

The report includes some possible explanations for the GPS and crash data findings as a result of the operational changes fleets had to make after the new restart provisions went into effect. These included:

  • 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," Dean Newell, vice president of safety for Maverick USA and a member of ATRI's Research Advisory Committee, observed in a statement. 

Newell said the ATRI research validates 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," he added.


  1. 1. Roger [ April 30, 2015 @ 03:31AM ]

    The currently suspended restart provisions absolutely were a case of some fmcsa employee trying to justify their position. What we will never know is if they were actually ignorant enough to believe this was going to reduce accidents or if they were intentionally trying to make life harder for the truck drivers. Truck drivers are the life blood of this country lets come up with some new convoluted way to screw with them.

  2. 2. Doug Smith [ April 30, 2015 @ 04:05AM ]

    The EITR or Elephant In The Room is electronic logs or EOBRs. The more units that are deployed, the bigger the "uptick" in class 8 crashes. After the mandate takes full effect, how will FMCSA get the genie back in the bottle?

  3. 3. jimmie buster sr retired [ April 30, 2015 @ 04:20AM ]

    no mater what they do same old story driver is at shipping cb on waiting too load no rest because some is running their mouth thank god for cel phones when I was still driving id tell them I didn't have a cb theyed fhone number id get sleep

  4. 4. Ruth [ April 30, 2015 @ 04:28AM ]

    In my opinion; If you want drivers rested, they should be able to stop when they are tired without losing their miles for the day. They should also have the option of waiting for heavy traffic to slow down. The only way you can achieve this is to let drivers drive the 11 hours when they want to. They should have an 8 hour consecutive break and they can only run 11 hours in 24.

  5. 5. Kenny Scott [ April 30, 2015 @ 05:12AM ]

    The Fmcsa had it right the first time they change the hours of service. So there are some who know what they are doing. But politics and money reiun it as it does everything.

  6. 6. Jean Hooe [ April 30, 2015 @ 05:20AM ]

    Thank you Ruth, it's too obvious that you make sense. All the studies in the world could not come to that conclusion. The 34 hr restart was just fine until they threw the wrench into with having 2 ,1-5am days consecutively off. I would love to know who that Einstein was. The next joke is the EOBR. Just another expense that is nothing more than a bookkeeping system. Please enough of these over the top studies that just cost the taxpayer. You cannot program the internal clock folks. Everyone is different. And if you don't believe me than lend yourself to me for 70 hours in 8 days for a month and I'll prove it to you.

  7. 7. Nick justice [ April 30, 2015 @ 05:50AM ]

    Duh! Everyone in trucking knew it, but the FMCSA ignored us as usual.

  8. 8. mark darling [ April 30, 2015 @ 06:00AM ]

    I been in the trucking business for 30 yrs, go back to when tired sleep, and do not take the hours away from the driver. Get the so called paper shuffeling experts out of trucking, listen to the drivers, and find out what they need.

  9. 9. Old Lady Trucker [ April 30, 2015 @ 07:04AM ]


  10. 10. Mark Knudtson [ April 30, 2015 @ 09:33PM ]

    Yet another example of where the 'smart' political paper pushing rule makers are just plain stupid

  11. 11. Stephen w [ May 03, 2015 @ 11:41AM ]

    The FMCSA knows that paying driver by the hour and over time after 8 or 10 hours per day will make trucking safer but instead comes up with silly plans that will not work unless they are pay based 5193578686

  12. 12. lee lenard [ May 03, 2015 @ 06:40PM ]

    Doug Smith, Ruth .... IF ONLY YOU WERE IN CHARGE of the FMCSA ! Instead we now have people there that know nothing about transportation, driving a truck or that can understand "cause and effect". They listen only to self declared safety advocates that know even less about trucking and the rigors of safely operating a truck. Yes, the upcoming EOBR is the most dangerous creation ever implemented for the safety of the trucking industry.

  13. 13. EZX1100 [ May 05, 2015 @ 06:18PM ]

    It was not unintentional. It was government arrogance at its finest

  14. 14. Darien L. [ May 08, 2015 @ 09:16AM ]

    I have said it many times, why doesn't the US rule makers take a look at the Canadian system? true it's not perfect, but I'll tell you this, when I come across the border into Canada, being a Canadian driver I have always experienced a sense of relief, since our system is more conducive to the needs of the trucker/the industry in general.

  15. 15. cory [ May 08, 2015 @ 05:30PM ]

    Bring back splitting the sleeper birth. I preferred 7/3 split

  16. 16. J. Reid [ May 30, 2015 @ 06:55PM ]

    Your H.O.S. Clock should only run while you in driving mode or on duty, not when you are off duty or catching a short nap. 14 hr. rule make a driver drive when he or she is tired. Give a driver a driving time of 11 hrs. in a 24 hr period or the option of stopping the 14 hr. continous clock because of a short nap or off duty


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