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
PDF Document


Synopsis: 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.