HOS final rule submitted to White House for approval

| 11/11/2008

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s latest attempt to finalize the hours-of-service regulations is under review at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The final rule was submitted for approval in late October. FMCSA officials have repeatedly said the rule would be released by the end of the year.

In July 2007, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit tossed the provision that increased driving time to 11 hours from 10 hours and the 34-hour restart provision.

The two provisions were tossed by the court on procedural grounds – not based on safety concerns.

The agency sought comments through the early part of 2008 on the interim rules truckers are currently working under. The interim final rule posted on the Federal Register Dec. 17, 2007. The agency left the current hours-of-service regulations as is, including the 11th hour of driving and the optional 34-hour restart provision.

Agency officials decided to propose keeping the current rules rather than create confusion within the trucking industry and the enforcement community by issuing revisions to the rule.

“This proposal keeps in place hours-of-service limits that improve highway safety by ensuring that drivers are rested and ready to work,” FMCSA Administrator John H. Hill said in a press release.

Those sentiments were echoed strongly in the interim final rule.

“Uncertainty is the enemy of enforcement and compliance; it can only impair highway safety,” FMCSA officials wrote in the interim final rule. “This (interim final rule) will ensure that a familiar, uniform set of national rules govern motor carrier transportation, while FMCSA gathers additional public comments on all aspects of this interim final rule.

“By re-adopting the 11-hour limit and the 34-hour restart, the agency’s intent is to allow motor carriers and drivers to combine work-rest schedules that follow the optimal 24-hour circadian cycle (10 hours off duty and 14 hours on duty) while maintaining highway safety with operational flexibility.”

– By Jami Jones, senior editor