SPECIAL REPORT: Comments on HOS due by Feb. 15

| 12/18/2007

Tuesday, Dec. 18, 20007 – The public has until Feb. 15 to comment on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s interim final rule on the hours-of-service regulations.

Truckers can continue using both the 11th hour of driving and the optional 34-hour restart provision thanks to the interim final rule published by FMCSA. The interim rule goes into effect Dec. 27.

According the interim final rule posted on the Federal Register Dec. 17, 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 Feb. 15. To see how to comment, click here. 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. In order to comment electronically, you will need the Document ID. That is FMCSA-2004-19608-2528.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor