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2/27/2006
SPECIAL REPORT: Four groups join OOIDA in HOS court challenge

Four groups have joined the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association in a legal challenge of the revised hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers.

OOIDA filed a court challenge earlier this year requesting that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit review HOS - specifically, rules involving the 14-hour on-duty clock and split sleeper-berth provisions.

Now, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Truckload Carrier's Association and the Ohio and California Trucking Associations are supporting OOIDA's court challenge and have filed "motions to intervene" in the petition for review.

"This means we have a great deal of support for our petition now," said Paul Cullen Jr., of OOIDA's legal team. "These groups support OOIDA's position and will have the opportunity to present arguments of their own."

OOIDA initially petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in August 2005 for two changes to the current HOS regulations.

The current regulations are set up in a way that if a trucker chooses to split up the required 10 hours of off-duty time, one of the two periods must be at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth. That eight-hour rest period stops the 14-hour maximum on-duty clock. The other two off-duty hours can be taken at another time - either in the sleeper or out - to fulfill the 10-hour off-duty requirement, but they do not stop the 14-hour clock.

The other change OOIDA petitioned for involved the split sleeper-berth provision for team drivers. Under the current HOS regulations, team drivers have to take a minimum of eight consecutive hours off in the sleeper berth. So one driver is virtually imprisoned in the sleeper berth, and the other driver is pressured to drive at least eight hours in one stretch while the other driver is off duty.

FMCSA denied OOIDA's petition for reconsideration December 2005, forcing the Association to take the matter to court.

OOIDA's legal team will challenge whether the FMCSA provided the public with an adequate chance to comment on the changes, and will argue that the final rules were reached in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner - given the evidence the agency had before it.

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