WASHINGTON, DC — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) responded to the recent US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report today that examined the agency’s 2014 study on the hours-of-service changes made in 2011 and implemented in 2013.
The GAO report is in response to a congressional request to review the findings of FMCSA’s January 2014 Field Study on the Efficacy of the New Restart Provision for Hours-of-Service.
The report looked at the rule’s assumptions and effects and concluded that the provisions decreased the number of fatal crashes, decreased the number of drivers working the maximum schedules, lowered the risk of driver fatigue and that there hasn’t been an increase of crashes between the 5 a.m. to 9 a.m rush hour time period.
“This GAO report provides further evidence that the changes FMCSA made to the HoS rules improve highway safety by saving lives and lowering the risk of driver fatigue,” said transportation secretary Anthony Foxx. “This reinforces our belief that these life saving measures are critical to keeping people safe on the roads. We value the GAO’s independent review and will use their recommendations to further strengthen our Department’s research to ensure that we have the best data available to keep our roads safe.”
The GAO report also found that FMCSA’s HoS study data support the finding that the provision requiring drivers taking a restart to be off-duty for two nights reduces fatigue.
“Our agency’s mission is safety, and we’re pleased that the GAO’s findings provide evidence of the positive impact of the 2011 hours-of-service rules,” said FMCSA chief counsel Scott Darling. “We view this report as a confirmation that our commitment to continually refining our research efforts to focus on the most effective safety outcomes is paying dividends.”
However, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) scolded the FMCSA for ignoring the bulk of the report and “cherry-picking” a handful of points in what they say is “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.
The ATA said that the 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, while in reality the GAO report says something much different.
The ATA says the report claims: that on crashes including on 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”; 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”; On FMCSA’s “lower risk of driver fatigue” – GAO says “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” and “Fatigue analysis is based on simulated schedules, is not representative of the motor carrier industry, and is not generalizable” 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.”