A sign entering town said “78% of all statistics are made up.” While I thought this was a bit cynical, over time I have come to see this as one of life’s truisms. Unfortunately, many groups, including our government, manipulate statistics to justify their actions.
Earlier this week, the American Trucking Association filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, illustrating that federal rules governing Hours of Service would add tremendous cost to the economy and undue burden onto drivers while providing minimal possible safety benefits. How did FMCSA justify the rulemaking? They did it with reliance on faulty statistics.
ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said “FMCSA systematically, and without regard for science or logic, distorted the available data in order to fit it to a predetermined and arbitrary outcome.” In order to justify the new Hours of Service rulemaking, FMCSA claims that 13% of all truck crashes were caused by fatigue, when the very study they relied upon showed that only 2% of crashes were caused by fatigue. Did FMCSA just lie? Not exactly. The study showed that fatigue was present during 13% of crashes, which was then exaggerated to causing 13% of crashes.
We all know that there a number of issues present during a crash. So why does the federal government distort the data to justify the rulemaking? Because they claim that giving drivers an additional 7.8 minutes off each day will result in more restorative sleep and thus better rested and more alert drivers. Only time will tell.
Kurt M. Rozelsky, Smith Moore Leatherwood, LLP, Greenville, SC. Chair, DRI Trucking Law Committee