Trucking Industry Fights Back Against FMCSA New HOS Rules: Claims Fed Statistics are Wrong

Trucking Industry Fights Back Against FMCSA New HOS Rules: Claims Fed Statistics are Wrong

The American Trucking Association (ATA) is the largest trade association for the U.S. trucking industry, representing over 37,000 members who are trucking associations from various states, as well as other industry leaders.  Today, the ATA threw down the gauntlet in a fight that promises to be big, claiming that the federal government used faulty numbers when it designed the new regulations for hours-of-service (HOS)(read the full FMCSA proposal as provided in the Federal Register here). 

In today’s press release, the ATA states in part (go here to read the full text):

“Policy changes must be based on sound research and data, not pressure or politics,” [Dave] Osiecki, ATA’s senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs, told FMCSA officials, “and their benefits must outweigh the costs,” he said. “The proposed HOS changes do not pass the test on any of these principles.” …

In an attempt to justify one component of its proposal, FMCSA leans on a study of just 12 people conducted at an in-residence laboratory and released just weeks before the agency’s proposal.  The study itself recommends “validation of the study findings . . . in a real-world field study,” Osiecki said.

FMCSA, Osiecki said, also “relies on a completely different, less sophisticated method” in its regulatory impact analysis than it had in the past in order to calculate the costs and dubious benefits of the proposed changes.

“In doing so, it arrives at much lower costs and much greater benefits than it found for a similar policy change just two years ago,” he said. “Since the safety benefits of the Dec. 29 proposal alone do not outweigh the costs, FMCSA’s analysis stands or falls on suggested driver health benefits.”

FMCSA’s analysis, Osiecki said, relies on creative  “hypothetical benefits” resulting from increased sleep, despite the fact the agency’s research has found drivers sleep between six and seven hours a night already, a level that is “within the normal sleep range determined by the very research relied on by FMCSA.”

“If there’s no harm in that sleep range, there’s no benefit in that range,” Osiecki said. “FMCSA overlooked this conclusion and proposed almost $700 million in annual health benefits,” on the premise that drivers will get more sleep, be healthier and live longer lives, the monetized value of which will offset the tremendous economic and productivity costs….

ATA is demanding (their words, “…respectfully requesting…”) that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration take its new HOS proposal off the table — withdraw it — and go back to the HOS regulations that everyone has been following since the early 2000s. 

Meanwhile, the FMCSA isn’t backing down.  It has, however, extended its rulemaking comment period to March 4, 2011. 

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