Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx defended the research leading to new hours of service rules, but said he couldn’t predict when a field study on the truck driver rules would be finished.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is “working as expeditiously as possible” in completing the study, Foxx said in response to House Republicans asking when the research will be completed and sent to Congress. The Aug. 29 letter to Foxx from 51 House Republicans ratcheted up pressure against the rules strongly disliked by the trucking industry. The rules took effect July 1.
“This rule, issued on December 27, 2011, is the product of years of fatigue research, safety studies and analysis of public comments,” Foxx wrote in a Sept. 18 letter. “It is also the result of input from a wide range of stakeholders, including trucking companies, drivers, law enforcement, unions and safety advocates.”
The FMCSA wrapped up the data portion of the field study at the end of July and is in the last stages of analysis, he said. The study was required through the last surface transportation bill, known as MAP-21, passed last year. In their letter, the legislators had said that MAP-21 required the field study to be completed by March.
“Further, the provision directed FMCSA to verify just one of the many findings from the agency’s lengthy and comprehensive rulemaking process and did not direct the agency to delay any of the rule’s important safety benefits while the field study was being conducted,” Foxx said.
The HOS rules will prevent an estimated 1,400 crashes annually, each year preventing 560 injuries and sparing 19 lives, he said. The trucking industry argues the new rules will backfire and hurt highway safety because they will force companies to put more trucks on the road, because productivity will shrink.