HOS comment period drawing to a close

| 3/2/2005

Despite attempts by a couple of special interest groups to extend the HOS comment period, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is sticking with its March 10 deadline.

At least two groups have filed requests to extend the 45-day comment period an additional 45 days. That’s just not going to happen, according to a response posted on the docket by FMCSA.

The response, a letter from Annette Sandberg, informed one of the groups that an extension of the deadline was not going to happen. The letter explained that because of the court ruling in July 2004 that tossed out the HOS regs, and because the extension of the current rules lasts until only Sept. 30 this year, the agency had no choice but to conclude the comment period March 10.

“A comment period ending later than March 10 would not allow adequate time for FMCSA to give full consideration to comments and research presented,” Sandberg wrote.

The agency has six months – which would easily clear the Sept. 30 deadline – to finalize the rule after the comment period ends. But the hitch in that timeline, according to Sandberg’s letter is “the administrative process requires us to allow at least 60 days for review by other agencies.”

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking specifically states that comments received after the closing date will be included and considered “if practical.” However, ATA filed a request seeking the FMCSA to “allow for submission of significant data for a period of 60 days beyond the established comment closure date.”

FMCSA has yet to respond to that request.

The HOS comment period, which has been open since Jan. 24, is seeking input from truckers and other interested parties as to the impact of the current HOS on driver health when compared with the previous hours-of-service regulations.

A boiled-down version of the NPRM and the questions presented in it can be viewed here.

All comments should indicate FMCSA-2004-19608. To submit your completed comments, you can:

  • Fax to: (202) 493-2251;
  • Mail to: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh St. SW, Nassif Building Room PL-401, Washington, DC 20590-0001