FMCSA’s recent hours-of-service rule changes were determined to be “economically significant rules,” and the Agency was required to conduct a cost-benefit analysis (technically called a Regulatory Impact Analysis or RIA) and provide it to the public. We thought it might be fun, or at least moderately interesting, to highlight a few FMCSA statements and findings from this cost-benefit analysis, and provide some brief commentary. Here goes…
“The Agency anticipates that this rule will not have any safety impacts. This is based on the fact that while some of the provisions may allow drivers to use more of their 11-hour driving limit, the changes will also provide drivers with additional flexibility to take breaks without penalty when they are tired.” (page viii of RIA) This FMCSA statement means the Agency expects no safety benefits, or reductions in safety, from the 4 changes. In other words, no increases or decreases in crashes over time by drivers using the added flexibility. Realistic expectation? You decide.
“FMCSA has determined that this rule will not necessarily increase the number of drivers that are covered by the short-haul exception or decrease the number of ELDs in use. Instead, this rule will streamline operations by allowing motor carriers and drivers to be consistently eligible for the short-haul exception…” (page 24 of RIA) Even though the air mile radius has been extended by 50 miles (100 to 150), and the workday has been extended by 2 hours (12 to 14 consecutive hours) for local drivers, FMCSA believes the number of drivers using the short-haul ELD exception will not increase. Again, we ask, realistic expectation by FMCSA?
“FMCSA is not attributing driver training costs to this final rule.” “However, for current drivers who have already been trained, this rule may necessitate some re-training to ensure that drivers are aware of changes in this rule. FMCSA has not estimated the costs of this retraining.” (page 40 of RIA). “Federal and State governments will incur one-time training costs of $8.6 million for training inspectors on the new requirements.” (page 43 of RIA). These statements/findings have STC staff scratching our heads. FMCSA spent 2.5 pages in its RIA explaining in detail how it arrived at $8.6 million of training-related costs for 11,000 Federal and State inspectors, but chose not to estimate the training costs for the 6,520,268 CMV drivers affected by the rule. STC’s question to motor carriers: will the Hours of Service changes require additional driver training? If so, at what cost? Is this the reason there is no estimate for the cost to industry to retrain drivers? You decide.