GAO calls for improved research standards concerning hours-of-service rule

- A new 127-page report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the January 2014 study issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to examine the efficacy of its hours of service (HOS) rule followed most generally accepted research standards. However, GAO said FMCSA failed to “completely meet certain research standards such as reporting limitations and linking the conclusions to the results.”

Consequently, FMCSA’s conclusion in the study about the extent to which crash risk is reduced by the HOS rule may be overstated, noted GAO. Furthermore, GAO found that FMCSA has not adopted guidance on the most appropriate methods for designing, analyzing, and reporting the results of scientific research. “Without such guidance, FMCSA may be at risk for excluding critical elements in research it undertakes to evaluate the safety of its rules, leaving itself open to criticism,” said the report.

FMCSA acknowledged the recommendation of the report to adopt formal guidance outlining the agency’s research standard and agreed to implement that suggestion. GAO also suggested that Congress consider directing the Department of Transportation to study and report on how electronically collected driver schedule data can be extracted, stored, and analyzed in a way that addresses cost and privacy concerns.

Click here to access the full GAO report and a one-page highlights page.

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