The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has posted a plan for how it will conduct the “naturalistic study” of the operational, safety, health and fatigue impacts of the hours-of-service restart provisions that Congress has mandated it to conduct.

Per the agency, the plan explains how a research team will measure and compare the fatigue and safety performance levels of drivers who take two or more nighttime rest periods during their 34-hour restart break and those drivers who take only one nighttime rest period during their restart break.  

The plan details the assessment technologies that will be used, study procedures, and the sampling plan and data analyses involved. 

Congress ordered the agency to conduct the naturalistic study when it suspended the more restrictive restart that had gone into effect in 2013.

That rule required any driver taking a 34-hour restart to take off two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. and limited the restart to once a week. FMCSA put that provision in place on the basis of research indicating that nighttime sleep is more recuperative than daytime sleep.

Those restrictions were rolled back in December by Congress and will remain so until FMCSA completes the mandated study of the rule or until September 30 of this year, whichever comes later.

Click here to view the FMCSA study plan.