Safety Report - Evaluation of U.S. Department of Transportation Efforts in the 1990s To Address Operator Fatigue

NTSB Number: SR-99-01
NTIS Number: PB99-917002
Adopted May 17, 1999
PDF

Executive Summary

During the 1980s, the National Transportation Safety Board investigated several aviation, highway, and marine accidents that involved operator fatigue. Following completion of these accident investigations, the Safety Board in 1989 issued three recommendations to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) addressing needed research, education, and revisions to hours-of-service regulations.

Ten years have passed since these safety recommendations were issued. In the interim, the Safety Board has issued more than 70 additional recommendations to the DOT, States, industry, and industry associations to reduce the incidence of fatigue-related accidents. In response to the three 1989 recommendations, the DOT and the modal administrations have, in general, acted and responded positively to the recommendations addressing research and education; little action, however, has occurred with respect to revising the hours-of-service regulations. Nevertheless, the Safety Board believes that support has grown in recent years to make substantive changes to these regulations.

This report provides an update on the activities and efforts by the DOT and the modal administrations to address operator fatigue and, consequently, the progress that has been made in the past 10 years to implement the actions called for in the three intermodal recommendations and other fatigue-related recommendations. The report also provides some background information on current hours-of-service regulations, fatigue, and the effects of fatigue on transportation safety.

As a result of this safety report, the National Transportation Safety Board issued new safety recommendations to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Research and Special Programs Administration, and the United States Coast Guard. The Safety Board also reiterated two recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Recommendations

As a result of this safety report, the National Transportation Safety Board made the following safety recommendations:

To the U.S. Department of Transportation:

Require the modal administrations to modify the appropriate Codes of Federal Regulations to establish scientifically based hours-of-service regulations that set limits on hours of service, provide predictable work and rest schedules, and consider circadian rhythms and human sleep and rest requirements. Seek Congressional authority, if necessary, for the modal administrations to establish these regulations. (I-99-1) (Supersedes I-89-3)

To the Federal Aviation Administration:

Establish within 2 years scientifically based hours-of-service regulations that set limits on hours of service, provide predictable work and rest schedules, and consider circadian rhythms and human sleep and rest requirements. (A-99-45)

To the Federal Highway Administration:

Establish within 2 years scientifically based hours-of-service regulations that set limits on hours of service, provide predictable work and rest schedules, and consider circadian rhythms and human sleep and rest requirements. At a minimum, and as recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board in 1995, the revised regulations should also (a) require sufficient rest provisions to enable drivers to obtain at least 8 continuous hours of sleep after driving for 10 hours or being on duty for 15 hours, and (b) eliminate 49 CFR 395.1 paragraph (h), which allows drivers with sleeper berth equipment to cumulate the 8 hours of off-duty time in two separate periods. (H-99-19) (Supersedes H-95-1 and H-95-2)

To the Federal Railroad Administration:

Establish within 2 years scientifically based hours-of-service regulations that set limits on hours of service, provide predictable work and rest schedules, and consider circadian rhythms and human sleep and rest requirements. (R-99-2)

To the Research and Special Programs Administration:

Establish within 2 years scientifically based hours-of-service regulations that set limits on hours of service, provide predictable work and rest schedules, and consider circadian rhythms and human sleep and rest requirements. (P-99-12)

To the United States Coast Guard:

Establish within 2 years scientifically based hours-of-service regulations that set limits on hours of service, provide predictable work and rest schedules, and consider circadian rhythms and human sleep and rest requirements. (M-99-1)

Also as a result of this safety report, the National Transportation Safety Board reiterated the following safety recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration:

Finalize the review of current flight and duty time regulations and revise the regulations, as necessary, within 1 year to ensure that flight and duty time limitations take into consideration research findings on fatigue and sleep issues. The new regulations should prohibit air carriers from assigning flight crews to flights conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 unless the flight crews meet the flight and duty time limitation of 14 CFR Part 121 or other appropriate regulations. (A-95-113)

Develop appropriate limitations on consecutive days on duty, and duty hours per duty period for flight crews engaged in scheduled and nonscheduled commercial flight operations, and apply consistent limitations in Alaska and the remainder of the United States. (A-95-125)