Proposed US Hos changes come under fire from all angles
April 1, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Proposed changes to US hours-of-service regulations have been given a rough ride in recent weeks, as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has sought public and industry reaction.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Proposed changes to US hours-of-service regulations have been given a rough ride in recent weeks, as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has sought public and industry reaction.
Most of the reaction has been decidedly negative, as organizations from across the continent, including trucking, law enforcement and shipper groups, have panned the proposal.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) said the proposed changes will have a significant negative impact on the efficiency and productivity of the North American supply chain and would be particularly disruptive to the shipment of US exports with no appreciable benefit to driver safety.
“The systems, routes and schedules carriers deploy in shipping US exports to Canada have been designed around the current Hours-of-Service rules,” said CTA CEO David Bradley. “Any reduction in the current rules will have detrimental effects on the ability of trucking to service the delivery of US exports which will have a negative impact on the US manufacturing sector at a time when the economy is still very fragile.”
Bradley warned a reduction in driving and on-duty time would add from one to three days to the transit time of US goods destined for the Canadian market.
“Canada is the number one export destination for the United States as a whole and for about 70% of the individual US states,” Bradley said. “President Obama has set a goal to increase US exports and Canada is the United States’ major customer. During the recession, exports to Canada were a key to survival for many US businesses. The proposed changes to the hours-of-service rules will negatively impact that trade.”
Meanwhile, the enforcement community was no more receptive. Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) executive director Stephen Keppler said the proposed changes would make it more difficult for roadside inspectors to verify compliance.
“We believe the prudent course of action at this point would be to retain the current rules,” he advised FMCSA.
The US Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy also asked FMCSA to keep the current rules, noting the proposed rules are not supported by health and safety data and would reduce flexibility for drivers and potentially even have negative health and safety consequences.
The US Chamber of Commerce called the proposal a “direct contradiction” of President Obama’s order to reduce burdensome regulations on businesses.
“If implemented in its current form,” the Chamber opined, “this regulation would be a model for such regulation that actually produces lower safety standards while simultaneously hurting business productivity in the domestic and global supply chain.” Meanwhile, an independent review of the FMCSA’s proposed new hours-of-service rules found the agency overstated the proposal’s benefits. The review, conducted by Edgeworth Economics, found the changes would result in a net cost of US$320 million a year, rather than the US$380 in annual gains the FMCSA is touting.
“We find that FMCSA has overstated the net benefits of the proposed rule by about US$700 million annually,” the review found. “FMCSA has made a number of substantial changes to its approach since the previous (regulatory impact analysis) issued in 2007. We find that, in every instance, FMCSA’s new methodologies and assumptions increase the apparent net benefits of the proposed rule. However, many of FMCSA’s new approaches rely on misapplication of available data, use outdated information, or lack empirical support entirely.”
And adding insult to injury, a leading researcher whose work was cited by the FMCSA when supporting its case, accused the agency of misrepresenting his research.
Dr. Francesco Cappuccio, a professor and researcher at Warwick Medical School in the U.K., reviewed 16 published studies on the effect of sleep duration on mortality. He also co-authored a 2007 study that the FMCSA, according to the American Trucking Associations, “leaned on most heavily to support its proposal” to rewrite hours-of-service legislation. The agency used Cappuccio’s study to conclude that short projected increases in sleep could generate roughly US$690 million in annual health benefits for drivers.
Cappuccio, however, has said the FMCSA cannot use his findings to quantify benefits to justify its proposed regulatory changes.
“(T)he current evidence…do(es) not support the conclusions of the FMCSA that a small increase in sleep duration of a few minutes following the HoS options proposed, particularly in the groups with baseline daily sleep of more than six hours per night, is likely to decrease the mortality risk of individuals or groups,” he reported.
He also said there is “no evidence to prove, that without additional measures, a simple reduction in work hours will result in increased sleep time.”
The ATA said Cappuccio’s comments are further evidence that the FMCSA’s proposed hours-of-service changes are flawed. “American Trucking Associations has said since the outset that policy changes of this scope need to be based on sound science and research, not political pressure and unproven theories,” ATA president and CEO Bill Graves said. “The fact that this prominent physician and sleep researcher clearly states the agency is wrong to use his and others work in this way clearly exposes the serious flaws in this proposal.”
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