In the letter, Graves points to recently unearthed data about the trucking industry's safety performance, as well as the underlying science used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Department of Transportation to alter the 34-hour restart provision of the rules.
"This data, in terms of both numbers and rates, is overwhelmingly positive, is a clear indication how well trucking is performing while operating under the current HOS rules, and further demonstrates FMCSA has no evidence of a safety problem with the current rules," Graves said of the recently discovered 2009 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts, which showed historic low levels of truck crashes.
Graves asked OMB to review the data "as you decide whether FMCSA and DOT have any legitimate reason to issue a new rule with significant public policy changes."
The letter also draws Sunstein's attention to the "findings" and "recommendations" used by FMCSA and DOT to craft their proposed changes to the 34-hour restart. Those findings come from a single study that the researchers themselves said was not enough to answer all the questions surrounding the rule's effect on safety.
"An objective read makes clear that this single study is insufficient to justify a policy change," Graves said, comparing the need for more research to the Obama administration's recent decision to delay approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline in lieu of further study.
"Critical highway safety policy decisions by our government deserve no less scrutiny and understanding by government policymakers and the public than environmental and energy decisions," Graves said.
For more details and background, read Washington Editor Oliver Patton's story.