DART First State Transit Accident Study: A Review of Operator's Time on Duty, Rest Between Shifts, Accident Occurrence, and Policy Implications

This study involves an examination of the occurrence of traffic accidents experienced by the operators of the vehicles utilized by Delaware's statewide transit service, DART First State. Specifically, transit accident frequencies during FY 2003 and FY 2004 were studied in relationship to operators' length of time on duty pre-collision on the date of the accident and their numbers of hours off duty between consecutive shifts. Generally, the data available for review indicated that motor vehicle accidents were distributed rather evenly across the work day. Of the 588 accidents for which sufficient data was available for analysis, 434 accidents - or 74% - occurred sometime during the first nine hours of the involved drivers' shifts for those days. This would not be unexpected, as the majority of DART First State's operators' shifts are of nine or fewer hours' duration. However, a noticeable deviation in the characteristics that were the focus of this study was observed among drivers who had accidents after being on duty for nine or more hours. Higher than-average hours worked during their previous shifts and lower-than-average rest time between shifts characterized this subset of accident-involved DART drivers. DART First State's policies and procedures related to operator fatigue were also reviewed in comparison to the pertinent findings of the American Public Transportation Association's Analysis of the Survey to Determine Status of the Transit Industry with Regard to Fatigue published in 2002 and a survey of contemporary practices in comparable transit organizations. The findings identify a range of policy options that have been implemented by various transit operators to address the issue of driver fatigue.