August 8, 2011

Commercial Motor Vehicle Hours of Service

Proposed Rule
Summary

Score: 37 / 60

Additional details
Agency
Department of Transportation
Regulatory Identification Number
2126-AB26
Agency Name
Department of Transportation
Rule Publication Date
12/29/2010
Comment Closing Date
03/04/2011

RULE SUMMARY

To promote safety and to protect driver health, FMCSA proposes to revise the regulations for hours of service for drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). To achieve these goals, the proposed rule would provide flexibility for drivers to take breaks when needed and would reduce safety and health risks associated with long hours. The proposed rule would make seven changes from current requirements.

METHODOLOGY

There are twelve criteria within our evaluation within three broad categories: Openness, Analysis and Use. For each criterion, the evaluators assign a score ranging from 0 (no useful content) to 5 (comprehensive analysis with potential best practices). Thus, each analysis has the opportunity to earn between 0 and 60 points.

Criterion Score

Openness

1. How easily were the RIA , the proposed rule, and any supplementary materials found online?
The NPRM and the RIA are both available in the docket at regulations.gov via a keyword or RIN search. FMCSA's web page has a prominent link to a page about this specific regulation, which contains links to both the NPRM and the RIA. To find the NPRM and the RIA, one must only go to the FMCSA website, click rules and regulations, and then select the regulation from "topics of interest."
5/5
2. How verifiable are the data used in the analysis?
New data are clearly sourced to DOT surveys or other well-known government sources. Links are in the references section. Finding some data would require going back to RIAs in previous proceedings.
3/5
3. How verifiable are the models and assumptions used in the analysis?
While FMCSA relies extensively on peer-reviewed literature to calculate the costs and benefits associated with this regulation, there are instances where assumptions are not supported. RIA contains a full list of references that are either from peer-reviewed journals, available in other dockets, or linked. A number of assumptions about how drivers will reallocate their time are simply based on the agency's judgment, with no further explanation.
3/5
4. Was the analysis comprehensible to an informed layperson?
The conclusions are easy to understand. Technical calculations can become quite burdensome to follow at times. Explanation of fatigue calculations used to estimate benefits is highly technical and unlikely to be understood by someone who is not a statistician. Recurring paragraphs telling the reader what we will do in this section and what was done in prior sections get redundant and tiresome. Both the Federal Register notice and RIA are littered with annoying acronyms, like "HOS" for "hours of service."
3/5

Analysis

5. How well does the analysis identify the desired outcomes and demonstrate that the regulation will achieve them?
4/5
Does the analysis clearly identify ultimate outcomes that affect citizens’ quality of life?
Reduced social cost of truck crashes and improved driver health due to reduced driver fatigue.
5/5
Does the analysis identify how these outcomes are to be measured?
Number of lives saved is estimated. Value (cost) of crashes is monetized, as are health benefits for drivers. The per-crash figure includes the monetary value of a statistical life, medical costs, pain and suffering, traffic congestion, and property damage, but these are not broken out separately. Value of health benefits to drivers is necessary for total benefits to exceed total costs.
4/5
Does the analysis provide a coherent and testable theory showing how the regulation will produce the desired outcomes?
In detail, FMCSA argues that a relationship exists between fatigue and automobile accidents—this relationship is supported extensively by previous literature. By limiting the number of hours a driver can operate a commercial motor vehicle and by allowing drivers the flexibility to take breaks when needed, FMCSA reasons that this regulation will produce the desired outcomes.
4/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
Credible empirical support for the relationship between fatigue and commercial motor vehicle accidents is provided extensively in section 4.2. The empirical support for health benefits is provided in Appendix B.
5/5
Does the analysis adequately assess uncertainty about the outcomes?
Size of estimates estimated under three different assumptions about the percent of crashes that are due to fatigue and 3 different assumed levels of baseline sleep. A sensitivity analysis shows how different values of a statistical life affect net benefits. Analysis forthrightly acknowledges drawbacks of using data on fatigue-related crashes for benefit estimates. Although it is possible that not all drivers will use the extra time to sleep, FMCSA does not make an explicit acknowledgment of uncertainty about how drivers will choose to use their time.
3/5
6. How well does the analysis identify and demonstrate the existence of a market failure or other systemic problem the regulation is supposed to solve?
1/5
Does the analysis identify a market failure or other systemic problem?
No market failure or systemic problem was identified. Stated purpose of regulation is to reduce risk of driver fatigue and fatigue-related crashes. These are characterized as "too high," with no discussion of how to define the "right" level. The preamble notes that crash rates have been falling since 1979, for unknown reasons. With regards to protecting drivers from serious health problems, it appears that FMCSA does not believe that truck drivers understand the potential negative health effects associated with the job.
1/5
Does the analysis outline a coherent and testable theory that explains why the problem (associated with the outcome above) is systemic rather than anecdotal?
No relevant discussion.
0/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
No relevant discussion. Instead, the analysis mentions that the data needed do not exist and instead opts to use general data on fatigue-related accidents. Statistics showing that only 15 percent of drivers drive more than 70 hours/week suggest the problem may not be systemic.
0/5
Does the analysis adequately assess uncertainty about the existence or size of the problem?
FMCSA acknowledges that it is difficult to make a causal relationship between fatigue and traffic crashes because of the numerous factors present at the time of a crash. Regardless of this, however, FMCSA remains rather certain that the relationship does exist and that further government intervention is required.
1/5
7. How well does the analysis assess the effectiveness of alternative approaches?
3/5
Does the analysis enumerate other alternatives to address the problem?
RIA considers no action plus three options, all of which reduce duty time and require a break but have different limits on driving time. While one alternative makes significant changes to the hourly requirements for drivers, the other two alternatives alter the driving time by plus and minus one hour.
5/5
Is the range of alternatives considered narrow (e.g., some exemptions to a regulation) or broad (e.g., performance-based regulation vs. command and control, market mechanisms, nonbinding guidance, information disclosure, addressing any government failures that caused the original problem)?
These are narrow variations on the same basic approach.
1/5
Does the analysis evaluate how alternative approaches would affect the amount of the outcome achieved?
Benefits are calculated and monetized in the same way for all three.
5/5
Does the analysis adequately address the baseline? That is, what the state of the world is likely to be in the absence of federal intervention not just now but in the future?
Baseline is current practice under the current regulation. No discussion of how this might evolve in the future absent a change in regulation.
2/5
8. How well does the analysis assess costs and benefits?
3/5
Does the analysis identify and quantify incremental costs of all alternatives considered?
While FMCSA provides detailed calculations for the costs of implementing the first main alternative (option 2), similar detail is not provided for the remaining alternatives. All costs are calculated as changes in productivity that result from (1) a reduction in daily work hours, (2) a reduction of daily driving hours, and (3) a reduction due to restart provisions. Additionally, the costs associated with training and reprogramming are calculated and annualized.
4/5
Does the analysis identify all expenditures likely to arise as a result of the regulation?
Primary cost is lost productivity. Monetizing the change in productivity is a bit vague because the RIA uses a rule of thumb developed in an earlier rulemaking, so it's hard to judge whether this is a complete assessment of costs. FMCSA considers the influx of drivers that will likely enter the industry given the reduced productivity associated with the regulation. Noted in the literature, new drivers have higher crash rates compared to those who are experienced. FMCSA accounts for this in its analysis of the costs associated with this regulation.
4/5
Does the analysis identify how the regulation would likely affect the prices of goods and services?
The analysis finds that the regulation will result in an increase in freight costs ranging from $4 to $20 per household per year. Analysis states that consumers would ultimately pay higher prices as a result of truckers' productivity losses. Each $1-billion productivity loss costs a household $9 per year.
4/5
Does the analysis examine costs that stem from changes in human behavior as consumers and producers respond to the regulation?
Considers safety impacts of diversion of traffic to rail and of new truck drivers, but concludes that these do not need to be estimated because they canceled each other out in a previous RIA. Assumes drivers will get adequate sleep when given the opportunity to do so, rather than doing other things.
3/5
If costs are uncertain, does the analysis present a range of estimates and/or perform a sensitivity analysis?
Cost uncertainty not analyzed.
0/5
Does the analysis identify the alternative that maximizes net benefits?
Tables present annualized net benefits of the three alternatives. The tables very clearly show costs, benefits, and net benefits for all options considered.
5/5
Does the analysis identify the cost-effectiveness of each alternative considered?
Preamble asserts two of the three options are "cost-effective," but what it really means is that they have positive net benefits. No other discussion of cost-effectiveness.
1/5
Does the analysis identify all parties who would bear costs and assess the incidence of costs?
Regulation would mostly affect the 15 percent of drivers who drive more than 70 hours/week. Regulatory flexibility analysis estimates that the rules would cost sole proprietorships slightly less per truck but would be double the percentage of revenues for these firms as for multi-truck firms. FMCSA notes that consumers will ultimately pay for the decreases in productivity that come as a result of this regulation.
3/5
Does the analysis identify all parties who would receive benefits and assess the incidence of benefits?
Two separate sets of benefits are calculated: monetary value of reduced crashes, which is not broken down by recipients, and health benefits for drivers, which accrue to drivers.
2/5

Use

9. Does the proposed rule or the RIA present evidence that the agency used the analysis?
Proposal resulted from a court settlement. Court settlement results from a suit that challenged aspects of DOT's analysis that were used to justify the increase in the daily driving limit from 10 to 11 hours. Research on risks and benefits, including driver health benefits, clearly played a major role in the decision to issue the regulation and the alternative chosen.
5/5
10. Did the agency maximize net benefits or explain why it chose another alternative?
DOT says it must consider costs and benefits when issuing this type of rule. While the second alternative offered (option 3) appears to maximize net benefits, FMCSA notes that the first alternative (option 2) does a better job of improving highway safety and protecting driver health. The costs associated with the option, however, cause the agency to pause before accepting one alternative over another. This discussion is provided in the Federal Register Notice and is based on the calculations found in the RIA. FMCSA requests further comment before making a decision on which alternative to use.
4/5
11. Does the proposed rule establish measures and goals that can be used to track the regulation's results in the future?
The proposed rule does not establish measures and goals that can be used to track the regulation's results in the future. Given that the proposed rule is designed to decrease the number of fatigue-related traffic accidents for commercial truck drivers, one could assume that FMCSA could establish goals using this as the measure.
1/5
12. Did the agency indicate what data it will use to assess the regulation's performance in the future and establish provisions for doing so?
No commitment to gather data, but the RIA demonstrates the agency has access to useful data and the RIA provides a helpful framework for evaluating it.
2/5
 
Total 37 / 60