FMCSA says it would be wrong to return to old HOS rules

| 9/21/2004

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration asked a federal appeals court Sept. 30 to keep new hours-of-service rules for truck drivers because it has not been shown that a return to the old rules would improve driver safety, and in fact, such a return might decrease safety.

“The petitioners’ dire predictions of harm from continued implementation of the new rule overlooks the fact that there has been no finding in this case that the current rule is less safe than the old rule…” FMCSA officials said, adding that those challenging the rules were “incorrect on all accounts.”

The revised HOS rules, announced in January, extend the time truckers could drive by one hour to 11, but cut back by an hour the total hours drivers could be on duty before taking a break.

Last week Public Citizen,Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, aka CRASH, and Parents Against Tired Truckers, aka PATT, challenged the new HOS rules and asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for a return to the pre-January rules.

Responding, FMCSA officials said the groups have it all wrong on every issue.

For example, the groups say there’s no evidence that a return to the old rules would harm the state’s ability to enforce HOS rules.

But FMCSA said, “Immediate issuance of the mandate would cause widespread disruption within the motor carrier industry and would significantly hamper the agency’s ability to conduct and coordinate effective enforcement of the HOS requirements.”

FMCSA told Land Line, “The court has not made its decision (on old rules vs. new rules) and is under no time restriction to make one. Until a decision is made, the new HOS rules are in effect.”

- By Dick Larsen, senior editor