FMCSA’s HOS-backing actions meet criticism

American Trucking Associations officials chided the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for ignoring the bulk of the Government Accountability Office report on the agency’s 2013 hours-of-service (HOS) 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 Dave Osiecki, ATA executive vice-president.
According to ATA, 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 am to 9 am morning rush hour
However, the full GAO report said:
•On crashes including on FMCSA’s “fewer fatal crashes”—from its press release, GAO said, “Without additional data over a longer period of time, we are unable to robustly determine whether the HOS rule had an impact on crashes.”
•On FMCSA’s “fewer drivers working the maximum schedules” comment—GAO said, “Findings are not representative of the motor carrier industry and are not generalizable.”
•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.”
•“Fatigue analysis is based on simulated schedules, is not representative of the motor carrier industry, and is not generalizable.”
•“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 HOS rules not with safety benefits, but by claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in assumed health benefits. However, GAO found:
•“There are no data available to assess the health effects of the rule.”
•“Motor carriers and drivers reported no noticeable positive health effects from the rule.”
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.”
“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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