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Public Comments on Truckers’ Hours of Service

March 4, 2011

Policy Integrity submitted comments on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association’s (“FMCSA”) proposed revisions to its hours of service regulation (“HOS regulation”) for commercial truck drivers. The regulation dates back to the Motor Carrier Act of 1935, which has seen little change to its basic structure despite numerous subsequent revisions. Our comments find FMCSA’s proposed modifications lacking for several reasons.

First, the revisions do not consider meaningful alternatives for each key provision of the regulation. Only four policy options are discussed, each containing a different maximum daily driving time. For three out of the four options, all other provisions (including those relating to break requirements and consecutive days on the road) are identical, meaning no useful analysis was conducted on them individually.

Second, FMCSA has not analyzed the effect of the proposed rule on several potentially significant health risks, including exposure to diesel exhaust. Furthermore, the analysis fails to account for benefits beyond mortality effects, such as morbidity reduction (decrease in unhealthful conditions). While such figures may be difficult to precisely determine, FMCSA should incorporate such potentially sizable benefits into its decisionmaking process at least qualitatively, if not also quantitatively.

As the proposed revisions represent only slight changes to standard industry practices that date back almost 70 years, Policy Integrity’s comments also call for a consideration of a more fundamental revision to the rule, informed by developments in the industry and new information about health risks. Important considerations include increasing compliance, educating truckers on health risks and safety practices, and the use of heuristics to encourage these behaviors.

Filed under Public Comments, Safety and Consumer Protection