SPECIAL REPORT: FMCSA wants to keep current HOS for 12 months

| 9/26/2007

Monday, Sept. 24, 2007 - The recent court ruling tossing two key provisions in the hours-of-service regulations put truckers in a state of limbo wondering what would happen next.

If the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration gets its way, the current rules could stay in effect for another 12 months.

The agency filed a response to the American Trucking Associations request for a stay. In the agency’s response, agency officials stated that they believe the industry would be better served to remain under the current rules while a new file rule is hammered out. The only other option for FMCSA would be to issue an interim final rule.

“FMCSA believes that a stay is preferable to an (interim final rule), since it will allow the agency to focus its efforts on gathering data and comments in conjunction with a final rule, while avoiding the severe disruption that would result from a change in the status quo,” the agency’s legal team pointed out in its response.

On July 24, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia tossed the provision that increased driving time to 11 hours from 10 hours and the 34-hour restart provision.

In its response filed Friday, Sept. 21, FMCSA pointed out that the court ruling tossing the two provisions identified “procedural defects” that require additional notice and comment or explanation from the agency.

The agency also points out that available data show that continuing the status quo will not diminish safety.

The response gives the industry the first glimpse into FMCSA’s plan since the court ruled in late July eliminating two provisions of the reg.

“The agency intends to conduct a rulemaking to consider new data, allow notice and comment on any proposed methodology, and address the procedural issues identified by the court,” the agency’s legal team wrote in the response.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor