SPECIAL REPORT: Interim hours-of-service reg coming soon

| 11/28/2007

Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007 – The trucking industry probably won’t be waiting too much longer to find out what the temporary hours-of-service regulations will be.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration submitted an interim final rule on hours of service to the Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday, Nov. 27. The notice on OMB’s Web site confirming submission did not include an abstract of the rule, which leaves the industry guessing what the interim rule will mandate.

The OMB notice also did not include a date when the review will be complete.

On July 24, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit tossed the provision that increased driving time to 11 hours from 10 hours and the 34-hour restart provision. In that same decision, the court denied a petition by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association asking the court to consider the impact of changes to the sleeper-berth provision.

The deadline for the court’s July decision to go into effect was Sept. 14. But that deadline pushed back legal challenges by OOIDA and the American Trucking Association.

OOIDA petitioned for a rehearing on its request to review changes to the split-sleeper berth provision and how FMCSA arrived at the final rule. ATA asked that the court’s decision not go into effect for eight months. The FMCSA echoed ATA’s request for a stay – except that the agency wanted a 12-month stay.

The agency was limited on options in trying to meet the initial Sept. 14 deadline. In a response filed with the court supporting ATA’s motion for a stay, FMCSA’s legal team indicated that agency officials had considered issuing an interim final rule to buy the agency enough time to gather data and comments in conjunction with a new final rule.

In an order – without any supporting opinion – handed down by the court late Sept. 28, nobody got their way, really.

OOIDA’s petition for a rehearing was denied and the court ruled that its order would go into effect in three months, not eight months as requested by ATA, or 12 months as requested by the FMCSA.

In early November, various trucking media reported that FMCSA Administrator John Hill said he expected to issue the agency’s response to the federal appeals court ruling in late November.

Once OMB approves the interim final rule, it will be published in the Federal Register. The Federal Register is available online by clicking here.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor