Old HOS rules vs. new focus of latest Public Citizen request

| 9/16/2004

After the FMCSA asked a federal court for an extra six months to correct the concerns of the court, Public Citizen and other activists asked the same court put old HOS rules into effect while the agency considers health-related issues, claiming the FMCSA really wants an “indefinite” extension with the new rules remaining in effect.

In July 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the new hours-of-service rules at Public Citizen’s request because the FMCSA did not consider driver health issues or EOBR use. The new rules had been in effect since January this year.

However, Public Citizen, Parents Against Tired Truckers and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways contend the FMCSA really seeks to satisfy the court’s decision by requesting “an indefinite interim measure” allowing the agency to include health issues in the new rules – while also keeping the new rules effective.

“Public Citizen, PATT and CRASH call on the court and Congress to refuse to grant the government’s indefinite motion to stay the court decision,” the groups said in their Sept. 13 request.

“The failure of FMCSA to draft a legally sufficient, scientifically sound and safe set of HOS rules is undoubted. Congress should not intervene where the judicial branch has done its job properly and rendered a fair and reasonable decision,” the letter said.

However, sources close to the issue say it’s unclear whether the court will keep the old or new rules effective while FMCSA seeks to comply with its order. The court must consider balancing what it determines is in the best public interest and it might say keeping the new rules in effect would achieve that result.