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12/17/2003
SPECIAL REPORT: Groups sue FMCSA on its HOS rules

Several groups have told a federal appeals court the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new hours-of-service regulations, due to take effect Jan. 4, 2004, actually defy the agency’s main mission – to make truck driving safer.

In a Dec. 1 filing, Public Citizen, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Parents Against Tired Truckers, told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that “far from improving safety, the final rule abandons virtually every principle FMCSA had proclaimed necessary for new HOS rules.”

The groups are set to argue their case April 15, 2004.

"Instead of curtailing hours that truck drivers may work and drive, thereby alleviating fatigue and abating the death toll from truck crashes, the rule increases the consecutive hours drivers may drive, allowing them to drive 26-28 percent more hours per week - an increase that will require 58,500 fewer long-haul drivers than needed under the old rules to cover the same hours.

"The rule also permits drivers to partition sleep into un-restful fragments in a sleeper berth; condones non-circadian schedules; fails to require a weekly recovery period for sleep-deprived drivers; ignores the risks of nighttime driving; and perpetuates a system in which most drivers willfully violate HOS limits."

In final comments to the court, the groups added: “The final rule fails miserably to satisfy statutory mandates and represents an abdication of duty that will lead to many more avoidable deaths and injuries on the nation’s highways.”

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