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Shuster & Petri Request GAO Evaluation of Studies Used to Change Federal Hours of Service Regulations for Truckers

Washington, DC, April 2, 2014 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI) have requested the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate two studies used to justify changes to federal hours of service (HOS) regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers.

“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.”

“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.”  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 1:00 a.m. – 5:00 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.

“Congressman Richard Hanna, a Member of the Transportation Committee, was instrumental in helping call attention to this issue and highlighting concerns that these regulatory changes may not be sufficiently based on sound science,” Shuster added.

On June 18, 2013, the Highways and Transit Subcommittee held a hearing to examine the potential impacts of the regulation changes on the trucking industry.

The full text of the request to Comptroller General of the United States Gene Dodaro follows (or click here):

Dear Mr. Dodaro:

We write to request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct evaluations of two separate studies offered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in support of the changes made to the hours of service (HOS) regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers. The trucking industry is a critical component of the Nation’s economy. Nearly 7 million Americans work in trucking-related jobs with more than 3 million working as commercial truck drivers. Commercial vehicles must be operated by skilled individuals who are mentally and physically capable of performing their jobs safely. To this end, FMCSA regulates the HOS that commercial motor vehicle drivers can operate. On December 27, 2011, FMCSA issued revised HOS regulations. Because it is important that federal regulations be based on full and fair scientific research, proper data and analyses, and operational testing, we request the GAO evaluate these studies.

On July 1, 2013, the FMCSA began enforcing the changes to a new “restart” rule aimed at restricting drivers work hours in order to reduce both the risk of fatigue-related crashes and long-term health problems for drivers. The rule limits the average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours and applies additional restrictions to a driver’s off-duty requirements. In a recent study assessing the efficacy of this new restart rule, the FMCSA found that some drivers adhering to these new restrictions were found to have fewer lapses on a reaction time test and slightly better operating performance. We request the GAO evaluate this study and report to the Committee on whether:

  • the FMCSA collected proper safety and operational data;
  • the number and type of drivers included was representative of the commercial driver population;
  • additional daytime truck traffic was analyzed for safety outcomes; and
  • the driver groupings were appropriate.

    We also request the GAO evaluate and report to the Committee on the validity of the key assumptions, data, and methodology used by the FMCSA in its Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA), which was completed as part of the agency’s HOS rulemaking. Specifically, the evaluation of the RIA should consider whether:

  • the assumptions and methodologies in the RIA are consistent with the FMCSA analyses offered in support of prior HOS rulemakings;
  • crash data the agency used was current and appropriate;
  • violation data was based on a representative sample of the industry;
  • driver health assumptions were appropriate and is it reasonable to expect the health benefits will be realized through real-world data analysis; and
  • errors, inconsistencies, or assumptions in the RIA affected the FMCSA’s conclusions regarding the costs and benefits of the new regulations.


    Bill Shuster
    Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

    Thomas E. Petri
    Subcommittee on Highways and Transit

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