NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


NTSB ADOPTS RECOMMENDATIONS, STUDY ADDRESSING OPERATOR FATIGUE

May 11, 1999

WASHINGTON - The National Transportation Safety Board today adopted six new safety recommendations aimed at reducing operator fatigue-related crashes in the nation's transportation system.

These recommendations on operator fatigue replace others that were issued more than 10 years ago.

The Safety Board's latest operator fatigue recommendations again call upon the U.S. Department of Transportation and its modal administrations to adopt scientific hours-of-service rules that require predictable and effective rest periods so vehicle operators remain alert.

"The Department of Transportation is still permitting pilots, truck drivers, railroad engineers, mariners and others to operate under regulations that are out of date and contribute to fatigue," said NTSB Chairman Jim Hall. "This lack of leadership to change the regulations continues to put all users of the nation's transportation systems at risk."

Changing the hours-of-service regulations is on the NTSB's list of Most Wanted Safety Improvements and has been a high priority for the Safety Board for many years. Since the Safety Board issued recommendations on this matter 10 years ago following the investigation of several fatigue-related accidents, it has made more than 70 additional recommendations to the DOT, states, industry, and industry associations.

The NTSB's latest recommendations arise from a new report evaluating the DOT's efforts during the past 10 years to address operator fatigue. The report, also approved by the Safety Board during a meeting on May 11, found that the DOT and its modal administrations have addressed NTSB recommendations calling for research and education. However, the NTSB report found that there has been little or no action with respect to the critical need for revising hours-of-service regulations. These regulations, which specify the length of on-duty and off-duty time for transportation operators, vary from mode to mode and have not been reviewed or revised, in some instances, for many years.

Even more important, none of the regulations in any of the modes takes into account modern research on human sleep and rest requirements. The new NTSB recommendations to the DOT and its modal administrations ask that revised, scientifically based hours-of-service regulations be established within two years.

An abstract of the NTSB report, its findings, and the text of the new safety recommendations are available at the Safety Board's web page, www.ntsb.gov. The full text of the report also will be available soon.

The report will subsequently be available in hard copy for purchase from the National Technical Information Service, 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161, (703) 487-4650. Please specify report number PB99-917002.

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.