American Trucking Associations officials said while they appreciate the release of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s study commenting on the efficacy of recent changes to the restart provisions of the hours-of-service rules, what the report doesn’t say may be as significant as what it does.
“We appreciate FMCSA releasing the results of its restart field study,” said Dave Osiecki, ATA executive vice president and chief of national advocacy. “However, in many respects this short report is lacking critical analyses on several important issues”
As the report indicates, this new research found that drivers with fewer nighttime rest periods may have incrementally slower reaction times for example as short as one-third of one second and a modest increase in lane deviations. FMCSA is cautious, though, in suggesting how important these findings are regarding the rule’s efficacy.
The report failed to evaluate the safety effects or efficacy of the once-per-week restart restriction, commonly called the 168 hour rule. Similarly, the study did not address the real-world safety implications of putting more trucks on the road during daytime hours, a time when more passenger vehicles are also on the road.
“The study acknowledges that the two or more night restart periods result in more trucks on the road during the day, but it does not address the corresponding safety or congestion impacts,” Osiecki said.
Additionally, the study does nothing to evaluate health benefits of the restart changes which were used to justify the rule change.
“While the study includes some findings favorable to certain portions of the new restart rule, the incomplete nature of the analysis and the lack of justification for the once-weekly use restriction is consistent with the flawed analyses that led the agency to make these changes in the first place,” Osiecki said.