HOS lawsuit officially on hold; comments still sought

By Jami Jones, senior editor | 3/5/2010

The hours-of-service regulations governing truck drivers are officially getting a breather from legal wrangling, at least for the time being.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit signed off Wednesday, March 3, on a proposed settlement submitted to the court by the four plaintiffs, which included Public Citizen, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in October of last year.

The agreement, in short, was that FMCSA agreed to review the regulations and submit a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the Office of Management and Budget by June of this year. The agency promptly moved into an information-gathering mode and began holding public listening sessions to solicit input on the regulations.

In return Public Citizen and the other plaintiffs agreed to an “abeyance” – which is essentially a suspension of the lawsuit – pending FMCSA’s publication of the Notice of the Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register.

Within 30 days of the proposed reg being published – which is expected sometime in November – the groups will file a joint motion with the D.C. circuit that will “govern future proceedings.”

In the meantime, FMCSA will be hosting a fifth listening session on the hours-of-service regulations March 26 at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY.

The listening session will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., March 26, at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center South Wing Room B101.

Anyone who hopes to attend the listening session can pre-register for free before March 15 at http://truckingshow.com/attendee/attendee-registration. Registering the day of the listening session as part of the Mid-America Trucking Show will require a $5 registration fee.

FMCSA officials have confirmed it is the agency’s intention to Webcast the listening session; however, details have yet to be finalized.

The agency is also accepting written comments from those unable to attend a listening session.

Public comments may be submitted in a number of ways, but it’s crucial for the submitter to include the official docket number. The docket number for this rulemaking is FMCSA-2004-19608.

Online: Log on to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

Hand delivery or courier: Monday through Friday, except federal holidays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.

Fax: 202-493-2251.

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Associate editor David Tanner contributed to this report.

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