The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has agreed to reconsider, and potentially change, its oft-challenged hours-of-service rule for commercial drivers, putting on hold a federal court challenge by a coalition of interest groups.
The agreement, filed on October 26th , gives FMCSA nine months to submit its review to the White House and up to 21 months to issue a new final rule to replace the current one. Until that time, the current rule remains in effect.
“Safety is our highest priority at the Department of Transportation and so we believe that starting over and developing a rule that can help save lives is the smart thing to do,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. FMCSA is a DOT agency.
The present HOS rule allows truckers to drive for 11 hours a day as part of a 14-hour workday and to refresh their weekly allotment of hours by taking a 34-hour break. The rule, which went into effect in 2008, is a replacement for one that was voided by a federal appeals court in 2007.
Richard Holcomb, American Trucking Associations’ general counsel, said the agreement “speaks for itself.” A lawyer for some of the interest groups, Greg Beck, said they were “pleased” with FMCSA’s action.
“Safety in the trucking industry has greatly improved while operating under the current hours-of-service rules,” said ATA President Bill Graves. “Over the past five years we’ve seen a strong decline in truck-involved crashes on our nation’s highways.”
DOT figures “clearly demonstrate that the trucking industry is now the safest it has been since DOT began keeping crash statistics in 1975,” ATA said in a statement.
The group said it “looks forward to participating in the upcoming rulemaking process to further demonstrate how the current safety-based HOS rules are working and why they should be maintained.”
Posted on Sun, November 1, 2009