Feds and Industry Dispute HOS “Benefits”

In one of the more dramatic discrepancies in interpreting data we’re aware of, the American Transportation Research Institute—the American Trucking Associations’ research arm—disputed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s estimate of the financial “benefits” the new Hours of Service Rule would provide to the trucking sector. According to FMCSA’s projection, the new HOS rule’s disputed “restart” provision—which establishes new off-duty requirements between drivers’ work periods—will save the U.S. trucking sector $133 million a year, apparently in drivers’ health and public safety benefits. ATRI, finding FMCSA’s sampling methodology and assumptions seriously flawed, concludes, on the contrary, that the “restart” provision will cost the sector $189 million annually.

ATRI criticized FMCSA for basing its estimate of “savings” on presumed behavior changes that the HOS rule would enforce in an exceptional pool of drivers—from carriers that were undergoing compliance reviews at the time their logs were inspected. ATRI’s own analysis used a randomized sample of 40,000 drivers and pointed out that drivers who use the existing restart “use it to increase flexibility, not to squeeze in more hours.”

ATRI also observed that FMCSA did not attempt to measure the costs of the increased traffic congestion and delays the new rule would cause, because of its restrictions on night-time driving.