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MOTORCOACH INDUSTRY HOURS OF SERVICE AND FATIGUE MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES SUMMARY The effects of fatigue on human behavior have been well researched. These effects are of particular interest to all transportation modes. In fact, government and private organi- zations with transportation missions have been major supporters of fatigue research. Although motorcoach operations have not been extensively studied, operations similar to the motorcoach community (e.g., commercial trucking and transit) have recently partic- ipated in major fatigue studies. One unique area of motorcoach operations is the extended workday many motorcoach operators face. Current Federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations require 8 hours off duty before driving again after a 15-hour duty period. However, because many motor- coach operations include extended non-driving and non-working periods, operators are off duty intermittently so that the 15-hour duty period may stretch over significantly longer periods. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has continued to spon- sor numerous research projects related to driver fatigue since the mid-1990s. The FMCSA considered the science-based findings in formulating the new HOS regulations for truck drivers. The new HOS regulations apply to property-carrying motor carriers; bus and motorcoach drivers (carrying passengers in interstate commerce) will continue to adhere to the HOS regulations in effect in October 2002. Much of the driver fatigue/ workload/rest research is relevant to this synthesis. An important factor setting motorcoach operations apart from other commercial driving operations is the passenger. Motorcoach operators are in direct, lengthy con- tact with the traveling public. Passengers concerned about getting across the country, making a connection to get to work, or visiting the local zoo or tourist site are unlikely to be informed or concerned about driver fatigue or HOS regulations. Most charter and tour drivers usually sleep in hotel beds. Inverted duty/sleep cycles (i.e., a night trip followed by a day of rest may be followed by a day trip and a night of rest so that the body never adjusts to a single schedule) can occur because of group itineraries. Itineraries may be altered in real time, disrupting the driver's planned schedule. Extended duty days can result in long layovers at destinations (e.g., casi- nos). Drivers must also tend to passengers' luggage needs, take tickets, and perform other tasks that add to their work time and possible stress. Having numerous people observing driving behavior may produce an incentive for more diligence and profes- sionalism on the part of a driver, but may also cause stress and fatigue.
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2 Extensive research has been conducted regarding in-vehicle fatigue countermeasure technologies for truckers, and in some cases this work has been taken onwards toward commercialization. These systems may be equally applicable to motorcoach drivers. Sys- tems have been developed that monitor and measure eye closures. Additionally, head movement monitoring has shown very good results, and commercially available products are now being offered to commercial drivers and being marketed to automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). A lane departure warning system offers feedback regarding levels of driver fatigue; although not scientifically validated, this type of feed- back is seen as valuable by drivers who have experienced it. Companies in Japan have had success in monitoring driver inputs (i.e., steering, brakes, and throttle) to assess fatigue. Essentially, a major portion of research and development has been completed and now the focus is on commercialization issues, such as driver-vehicle interface, pack- aging, and generating cost/benefit data that are compelling to fleet buyers. Thus there was a clear opportunity to synthesize these various driver-related research approaches and countermeasures and to identify both commonalities and differences between trucking and motorcoach operations. This opportunity set the stage for this synthesis study. The primary objective of this research is to identify and document the fatigue effects of the extended workday that typifies motorcoach operations. The researchers also sought to identify any techniques that motorcoach managers, front-line employees, and drivers use to reduce fatigue-related incidences resulting from the irregular on-duty conditions facing the motorcoach operator. A final objective is to identify any current or on-the-horizon technologies that may be appropriate for motorcoach operations to offset the effects of the extended workday and fatigue-inducing environment. All of this was done within the context of normal best of practice approaches to countering driver fatigue whether the workday is extended or not. The scope of the study included a literature review complemented by a survey of selected motorcoach bus companies, industry associations, insurers of motorcoach companies, state driver licensing agencies, private driving schools, and other organizations. The informa- tion sought in the literature review and survey permitted the research team to identify and examine: (1) HOS issues in the motorcoach industry, particularly the effects of counter- measures to the extended workday; (2) similarities and differences in the approach of the trucking and motorcoach industries in complying with HOS regulations; and (3) current or on-the-horizon technologies that could assist motorcoach operators in combating fatigue. The challenge of this synthesis was the limited availability of empirical research in the domain of motorcoach operator fatigue effects. The literature review and discussion of the current state of the art in fatigue research and countermeasures depended to a great extent on a 1999 study that included focus groups and telephone surveys with over-the-road bus company managers and research scientists (Arrowhead Space & Telecommunications, Inc., 1999). By the same token, much of the background on the scientific foundation for the general discussion on fatigue and fatigue countermeasures came from a major 2003 study funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Special Programs Administration (McCallum et al., 2003). A third report produced by the TCRP (Gertler et al., 2002) was a valuable source of specific countermeasures to bus operator fatigue. In terms of research findings and support, this synthesis does not break new ground. It does put in one document the research findings of fatigue in transportation studies in general and bus operator fatigue studies in particular. Its major contribution is the results of recent and current surveys of over-the-road bus company managers and the relevant research community. Again, the results of these surveys do not contain many surprises. But they do represent a snapshot of current over-the-road bus company prac- tices and options as regards bus operator fatigue. Given that empirical research into the specific problems facing over-the-road bus oper- ators is limited, this subject appears to be a natural candidate for a major research study.
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3 Bus transportation is often the first choice of seniors looking for tours and destinations in their retirement years. As the number of such people grows, the need for safe bus opera- tors will grow as well. Bus companies and drivers could use a set of guidelines and aids, based on scientific research, to combat motorcoach operator fatigue effects. This research and its products could be major contributors to over-the-road bus safety. FINDINGS Although major research studies into operator fatigue have been reported, motorcoach operators have not been included in these studies. Although the similarities between over- the-road truck drivers and over-the-road bus drivers are many, the latter also have unique situations that may either increase or decrease incidences of fatigue. Managers surveyed for this and other studies reported very few bus crashes associ- ated with bus operator fatigue. The research personnel responding to the survey believe that bus operator fatigue may be a significant contributor to over-the-road safety inci- dents. However, there is little statistical support for that belief. Bus company managers identified operator training as a major countermeasure to bus operator fatigue. The researchers also identified rest and regular schedules as key fea- tures of any fatigue countermeasure program. Managers reported significant pressure from passengers to have bus operators drive for longer periods. They also reported that as many as 75% of bus operators also han- dle passenger luggage. Both drivers and managers believe that nearly all bus operators are familiar with cur- rent Federal HOS regulations. CONCLUSIONS There is no evidence that over-the-road bus operators are any more susceptible to fatigue than other commercial drivers or other transportation operators. There has been very little objective research conducted on over-the-road bus opera- tors and this is particularly true when it comes to fatigue research. Fatigue countermeasures that work for over-the-road truck operators should work for over-the-road bus operators as well. Both bus and truck operators drive large vehi- cles on long, over-the-road routes. There is no evidence that bus and truck operators are drawn from different workforce populations; they are also subject to the same work related pressures, schedules, and challenges. The effects that passengers have on either combating or amplifying fatigue in bus operators have not been well documented. RECOMMENDATIONS A research study on the specific effects of fatigue on over-the-road bus operators should be conducted. Any research into either causes of fatigue or fatigue countermeasures should include over-the-road bus drivers as part of the subject pool. Over-the-road bus companies and associations should be encouraged to provide counter-fatigue products, training on fatigue effects, and combating fatigue informa- tion and support to all bus operators, even when those products and materials may have been developed for the trucking industry. A research program on the effects of passengers on bus operator fatigue (including the effects of non-driving tasks) should be instituted.