The Federal Highway Administration, in what is claimed to be an effort to further the development of new hours-of-service rules for commercial drivers, has hired two individuals to look into a negotiated rulemaking. While FHWA has been reviewing hours of service, and had issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on Nov. 5, 1996, no proposed rule has yet been announced.
In accordance with the Negotiated Rulemaking Act of 1996, a few impartial individuals (called "convenors") are aiding FHWA in the process of deciding whether or not a negotiated rulemaking process is necessary. These convenors, hired by FHWA, are Alana Knaster of Los Angeles, and Charles Pou of Washington, DC.
Knaster and Pou are responsible for speaking to those likely to be affected by hours-of-service rules. This includes drivers, motor carriers, safety groups, and law enforcement officials. They will submit a report of their findings and recommendations regarding whether or not an effective negotiating committee can be assembled.
OOIDA President Jim Johnston says that hours-of-service regulations qualify as an important regulatory change, but the opposing viewpoints on both sides of the issue could lead to a solution that is less than practical.
"The railroad-sponsored, so-called ‘truck safety groups,' for example, have a totally different goal," he says. "Their mission is to impede the efficiency of the trucking industry to the greatest extent possible. A long-overdue change to the hours-of-service regulations is without a doubt the single most important issue affecting truckers this decade. It is far too important to be decided on the basis of political compromise, rather than practical common sense."
If Knaster and Pou recommend a negotiated rulemaking, FHWA will invite groups who are likely to be affected by the regulations to participate in a negotiating committee. The ultimate goal is to develop a rough draft of the new hours of service rules.
"Hours-of-service regulations certainly qualify as an important regulatory change," Johnston says. "The negotiated rulemaking process can be a very efficient and beneficial means of addressing important regulatory changes – as long as political agendas are not involved." LL