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June 9, 2011 4:30 PM, EDT

Former FMSCA Official Hits Studies Used in HOS Rule Analysis

A former Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration official is taking aim at four studies the agency used to support its hours-of-service proposed rule, American Trucking Associations said Thursday. 

One day after the comment period on the proposed new rules ended, Ronald Knipling, who headed FMCSA’s research division, criticized a study from Pennsylvania State University researchers, concluding that the sample of drivers, trucks and crashes — as well as minimal attention paid to other crash factors —  rendered the study of little value.

Researcher Francesco Cappuccio had said previously that FMCSA had misused his sleep research, ATA said in March.

“It would be erroneous and unwarranted to accept Penn State’s principal findings and conclusions without extensive re-analysis, internal validation, and external replication,” Knipling wrote.

Knipling said his research showed fatigue related to lack of sleep, being awake for more than 16 hours and early morning driving were factors in many single-vehicle truck crashes, though fatigue-related driving and work schedules as prescribed by daily HOS rules were not.

ATA President Bill Graves said Knipling’s work in reviewing the latest reports only underscores how weak FMCSA’s case for change really is.

ATA and much of the motor carrier industry have opposed to changes in the HOS rule, saying that trucking’s safety ratings are at all-time bests under the current rule.

FMSCA Administrator Anne Ferro said recently that the agency expects to complete its work on the proposed HOS rule by October.