SPECIAL REPORT: Court tosses 34-hour restart, 11-hour driving limit

| 7/24/2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007 – Truckers will once again face another new hours-of-service regulation, thanks to a ruling that eliminates the 34-hour restart and 11-hour driving limit.

The U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling today on a pair of challenges to the current hours-of-service regulations.

In the decision issued by the court, the 11-hour driving time limit and the 34-hour restart were thrown out. No changes to the sleeper-berth provision were made. The court ruled based on procedures followed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and not on the merit of the challenged provisions.

Truckers may feel like they are in a state of limbo with this latest round of changes to the hours-of-service regulations.

But, in the short term, nothing really changes.

According to a statement from FMCSA, agency staffers are “analyzing the decision issued today to understand the court’s findings as well as determine the agency’s next steps to prevent driver fatigue, ensure safe and efficient motor carrier operations and save lives. This decision does not go into effect until Sept.14, unless the court orders otherwise.”

Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said that until FMCSA takes some sort of official action truckers should continue operating under the 11-hour driving rule and utilizing the 34-hour restart if needed.

“The court’s ruling impacts the agency, not the truckers,” said OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston. “Truckers should continue operating the way you are until we see some sort of official action out of DOT.”

And, Johnston doesn’t expect to wait long to hear what the next step will be.

“I expect DOT to act quickly and implement the changes the court mandated,” he said.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor