Long hours and fatigue: a survey of tractor-trailer drivers

Braver, Elisa R. / Preusser, Carol W. / Preusser, David F. / Baum, Herbert M. / Beilock, Richard / Ulmer, Robert G.
Journal of Public Health Policy Master File
Autumn 1992

Fatigue and long driving hours have been implicated as risk factors in truck crashes. Under federal regulations, commercial drivers are permitted to drive no more than 10 hours before having an 8-hour break and cannot work more than 70 hours over an 8-day period. Several studies have suggested that violations of these rules are common. A survey of long haul tractor-trailer drivers was conducted to estimate what proportion of drivers report that they regularly violate the hours-of-service rules and to identify the drivers most likely to commit hours-of-service violations. During December 1990 through April 1991, a total of 1,249 drivers were interviewed at truck safety inspection stations, truck stops, and agricultural inspection stations in Connecticut, Florida, Oklahoma, and Oregon. In each state, interviews were conducted during varying periods of the day over the course of seven days at inspection stations. Overall, 89 percent of eligible drivers asked for interviews participated in the survey. According to self-reports, almost three-fourths of the respondents violate hours-of-service rules. About two-thirds of the drivers reported that they routinely drive or work more than the weekly maximum. A primary impetus for violating rules appears to be economic factors, including tight delivery schedules and low payment rates. Many other driver, job, and vehicle characteristics were significantly associated with being an hours-of-service violator. The high prevalence of hours-of-service violations among tractor-trailer drivers is a problem in need of urgent attention. Potential measures to reduce the prevalence of rules violations include more enforcement directed toward carriers, wider use of electronic recorders, and increasing the number of rest areas.