ATA: FMCSA Spin Out of Control on Hours-of-Service Report


American Trucking Associations chided the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for ignoring the bulk of the Government Accountability Office’s report on the agency’s 2013 hours-of-service changes, choosing instead to cherry pick a handful of points in a desperate effort to influence lawmakers.

“It is unfortunate that rather than present an accurate and balanced characterization of the GAO report, FMCSA is once again living in Spin City,” said ATA Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki.

FMCSA cherry-picked four findings in a press release, claiming the GAO study found:

  • Fewer fatal crashes
  • Fewer drivers working the maximum schedules
  • Lower risk of driver fatigue
  • No increase in crashes during the 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. morning rush hour

However, the full GAO report said:

  • On crashes, including FMCSA’s “fewer fatal crashes” from its press release – GAO says “Without additional data over a longer period of time, we are unable to robustly determine whether the HOS rule had an impact on crashes” (see Appendix VII, page 115);
  • On FMCSA’s “fewer drivers working the maximum schedules” comment – GAO says “Findings are not representative of the motor carrier industry and are not generalizable.” (see Table 2, page 26);
  • On FMCSA’s “lower risk of driver fatigue” – “We found the field study’s sample size was insufficient to estimate statistically significant differences in the primary fatigue measure—the PVT—for each of these industry segments and times.” (see Appendix II, page 58); and
  • “Fatigue analysis is based on simulated schedules, is not representative of the motor carrier industry, and is not generalizable” (see Table 2, page 26) and
  • “While we agree that evidence generally supports that fatigue and crash risk are related, we are uncertain how fatigue differences of the size reported in the field study would be associated with crash risk. Thus, the safety implications and policy importance of the study’s estimated effects on fatigue may be overstated.”

In large part, FMCSA justified its July 2013 hours of service rules not with safety benefits, but by claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in assumed health benefits. GAO found:

  • “There are no data available to assess the health effects of the rule.” (see Table 2, page 26) AND THAT
  • “Motor carriers and drivers reported no noticeable positive health effects from the rule.” (see Table 2, page 26)

With respect to its prior field study, GAO also said:

  • “These shortcomings leave the agency open to criticism over the integrity of the study and invite skepticism about the results.” (see page 42)

“Not only did FMCSA’s field study shortcomings invite criticism,” said Osiecki, “so too does the agency’s attempt to spin the GAO findings. The public must have trust in its government. Unfortunately, FMCSA’s continued spin does not invite that trust.”


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