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FMCSA defends ‘science’ used for HOS to Congressmen; GAO asked for evaluation

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa. (above), and Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri, R-Wis., said they had requested that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluate two studies on which the new HOS rules were based.

The Trucker News Services

9/3/2014

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration late Wednesday staunchly defended the science used to develop the new Hours of Service rule.

The agency was responding to a request by two Congressmen to evaluate two studies the FMCSA used to develop the new rule, which has been roundly criticized by the trucking industry.

“Using the latest sleep science, data-driven analysis and robust input from stakeholders, FMCSA carefully updated the Hours of Service rule to provide truckers with the time they need to be well-rested, alert and focused on safety,” FMCSA spokesperson Marissa Padilla told The Trucker in a prepared statement. “We are confident in the scientific studies and analyses that support this life-saving rule, which is effectively mitigating fatigue in truck drivers who work the most extreme schedules — an average of up to 70 hours a week.”

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri, R-Wis., said earlier Wednesday they had requested that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluate the two studies.

“I continue to hear concerns from drivers and companies in Wisconsin and around the country about the impact of this 34-hour restart,” Petri said.  “We need to make sure the requirements are based on sound facts and actually improve safety rather than just overwhelm the industry with another onerous regulation.”

“Millions of American truckers are critical to the flow of commerce in our country, and we have to be certain that any changes to regulations impacting their ability to properly do their jobs and earn a living are well founded,” Shuster said.  “Concerns have been raised that these regulatory changes may have been enacted without proper data or analysis, and if the Administration is going to change the rules on truck drivers, we need to know that the changes were thoroughly vetted and will improve safety.”

The American Trucking Associations, a staunch opponent of the new HOS rule, lauded the move by Shuster and Petri.

"We appreciate Chairmen Shuster and Petri's leadership on this important truck safety and operational issue,” ATA Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki said. “ATA believes any new requirements affecting millions of professional drivers must be based on a sound research foundation, good facts and relevant data analyses.  Congressmen Richard Hanna, R-N.Y.,  and Michael Michaud, D-Maine, also deserve a great deal of credit for focusing attention on the unintended consequences of these new Hours of Service rules  ATA looks forward to GAO's evaluation of the studies at issue

On July 1, 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration required drivers to comply with a new 34-hour restart rule in order to reset a driver’s weekly driving limit.  The new 34-hour restart rule requires a driver to be off-duty for 34 consecutive hours, which must include two periods between 1 a.m. – 5 a.m.  This rule change has had the effect of extending some drivers’ restart period, and cutting the number of hours they are able to work.

Petri held a hearing on June 18, 2013, about the new requirements and concerns from lawmakers about the impacts on the trucking industry.  “I’m receptive to the concerns of many of my constituents who argue that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t provide the flexibility some companies need…,” said Petri at the hearing.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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