SPECIAL REPORT: HOS comment period extended to March 17

| 2/15/2008

Friday, Feb. 15, 2008– The public now has until Monday, March 17, to comment on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s interim final rule on the hours-of-service regulations.

The deadline for comments was initially Feb. 15. But, a 30-day extension was granted after the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety petitioned the agency for a longer comment period.

The agency is soliciting comments on its interim final rule that allows truckers to continue using both the 11th hour of driving and the optional 34-hour restart provision. The interim rule went into effect Dec. 27.

According the interim final rule posted on the Federal Register Dec. 17, 2007, the agency is leaving the current hours-of-service regulations as is – with no changes to the sleeper-berth provision.

Agency officials decided to keep the current rules rather than create confusion within the trucking industry and the enforcement community by issuing revisions to the rule.

“This proposal keeps in place hours-of-service limits that improve highway safety by ensuring that drivers are rested and ready to work,” FMCSA Administrator John H. Hill said in a press release.

Those sentiments were echoed strongly in the interim final rule.

“Uncertainty is the enemy of enforcement and compliance; it can only impair highway safety,” FMCSA officials wrote in the interim final rule. “This (interim final rule) will ensure that a familiar, uniform set of national rules govern motor carrier transportation, while FMCSA gathers additional public comments on all aspects of this interim final rule.

“By re-adopting the 11-hour limit and the 34-hour restart, the agency’s intent is to allow motor carriers and drivers to combine work-rest schedules that follow the optimal 24-hour circadian cycle (10 hours off duty and 14 hours on duty) while maintaining highway safety with operational flexibility.”

The two provisions were tossed by the court on procedural grounds – not based on safety concerns.

FMCSA officials address this point in the interim rule by providing information on reviews of previous analysis of studies, submitting new analysis and even more statistical data that back up keeping both provisions in a final rule.

Comments on the interim final rule will be accepted through March 17. You will need the Docket ID, which is FMCSA-2004-19608. You must include it on any comments you submit by fax, mail or in person. To file comments electronically, click here . Just click on the comment balloon and follow the instructions on the comment page.

Of course, submitting comments electronically via the Internet isn't your only option. You can still:

  • Fax comments with the Docket ID number to (202)-493-2251;
  • Mail comments with the Docket ID number to:

Docket Management Facility 
U.S. Department of Transportation 
Room W-12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE 
Washington, DC 20590-0001

  • Or hand deliver comments between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday except on federal holidays to the ground floor of the U.S. Department of Transportation building, Room W-12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE , Washington , DC .

– By Jami Jones, senior editor