DOT asks discretionary enforcement�for 60 days after Jan. 4 HOS change

| Wednesday, December 24, 2003

States can follow or reject that recommendation

Commercial truck drivers not following new rules governing the hours they can drive will face aggressive education coupled with discretionary enforcement for 60 days starting Jan. 4, the day the overhauled rules take effect, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said.

The decision is meant to ensure long-term compliance and understanding of the new safety rules, Mineta added. The new rule represents the first major rewrite of HOS rules in more than 60 years.

“As we get closer to the implementation date, we are finding that too many truckers still have questions about these rules,” Mineta said. “It’s our version of on-the-job training for drivers who aren’t sure how or whether the new safety rules apply to them.”

He said states would be asked to write warnings instead of citations for all but flagrant violations, and to use every stop as an opportunity to educate drivers about the new rules. Inspectors from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will coordinate education and enforcement efforts from regional offices across the country.

The decision also gives DOT officials time to work out a solution with Congress on rules for truck drivers who work for public utilities and respond to emergency outages.

“We want a solution that keeps road safe, water flowing and the lights on,” Mineta said, predicting cooperation among everyone concerned and optimism that a solution can be found.

Mineta said the goal was to get details of the changes to all operators as soon as possible.

"We want to do whatever we can to make certain everyone is aware and ready to comply as soon as possible,” he said.

Detailed information about the rule is at www.fmcsa.dot.gov, and FMCSA will staff a toll-free telephone line around the clock beginning Dec. 29 to answer drivers’ questions. The phone number is 1-800-598-5664.

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