U.S. Misused Research in Truck Rulemaking, Trade Group Says

The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration misapplied research underpinning its proposed rules to limit the length of truck drivers’ shifts, according to a statement from the scientist responsible, the American Trucking Associations said.

The trucking regulator shouldn’t conclude that slightly longer sleep periods would translate into fewer traffic fatalities, Francesco Cappuccio, a sleep researcher and professor at Warwick Medical School in the United Kingdom, said in a statement released by the Arlington, Virginia-based trade group today.

“There is no evidence to date to support the view that a few minutes of increased sleep time per day would exert a beneficial effect on mortality risk,” Cappuccio said in the statement.

The U.S. Transportation Department agency proposed rules Dec. 23 to cut an hour of driving time per day for the nation’s

1.6 million long-haul truck drivers. Truckers also would have to take breaks after driving seven consecutive hours, and wouldn’t be allowed to work as many consecutive days of long shifts as they can now.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “looks forward to receiving all public comments and addressing them in the final rule,” Candice Tolliver, an agency spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement.

The trucking industry says the rules would cost $2.2 billion a year. A Bloomberg Government analysis showed the proposal may cost as much as $1.8 billion. The trucking regulator estimated an annual expense of $1 billion, or 0.5 percent of the industry’s annual revenue.

“The fact that this prominent physician and sleep researcher clearly states the agency is wrong to use his and others work in this way clearly exposes the serious flaws in this proposal,” Bill Graves, president and chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations, said in a statement.

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