OOIDA's petition to reconsider HOS provisions denied

| 12/21/2005

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has denied OOIDA's petition to reconsider two provisions in the new hours of service regulations.

OOIDA petitioned FMCSA on Aug. 29. The petition asked FMCSA “that the split sleeper berth provision from the 2003 rule be retained for team drivers,” and “that both minimum rest periods under the new sleeper berth provision be excluded from the 14-hour on-duty limit for solo drivers.

In a letter dated Dec. 5, FMCSA informed the Association that its petition for reconsideration was denied.

“The Association is in the process of evaluating a possible court challenge as its next step,” OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Rick Craig said.

In its petition, the Association argued that the new split sleeper-berth provision forces team drivers to actually drive longer periods of time that “wear them out.”

“They prefer being able to switch drivers after much shorter periods of time, which gives them more frequent rest opportunities, and leaves them more refreshed each time they drive,” OOIDA's petition stated.

FMCSA denied the Association's request to retain the 2003 rule's split sleeper-berth provision for teams by claiming that the current regs “ensure that drivers can obtain seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep during one sleeper-berth period.”

“This actions provides drivers with a work/rest schedule that is more likely to prevent fatigue,” the denial stated.

The second provision OOIDA asked to be reconsidered was that both portions of the split sleeper-berth provision be excluded from the 14-hour clock. The current regs allow for the eight-hour portion of the split to not count against the daily on-duty clock, but the remaining two hours, while off-duty, do not stop the on-duty clock.

The Association argued that not stopping the daily on-duty clock for the two-hour off-duty portion of the split sleeper-berth provision “does nothing to alleviate drivers' disincentives to take a break that cuts into available driving time.”

FMCSA flatly denied this request, stating “the two-hour break for sleeper-berth drivers in the 2005 rule is mandatory, so there is no question of incentives or disincentives.”

OOIDA isn't alone. The Teamsters had also petitioned for some changes to the split sleeper-berth provision for teams. On Dec. 5, FMCSA sent a letter to Teamster President James Hoffa denying that group's request. The agency's rationale for rejecting the Teamster petition was similar to its reasons for rejecting the OOIDA petition.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor