American HOS survives latest wave of court challenges

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit by special interest group Public Citizen to quash the 11-hour daily driving limit and the 34-hour restart provisions of the current hours-of-service rules.

That means the U.S. rules will stand as they are until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) completes the final version and consults with experts — a process that is expected to take many months.

If the court sided with Public Citizen and the Teamsters, the 11-hour limit and the 34-hour restart portions would have been eliminated.

The American Trucking Associations said that the decision confirms its view that the Court’s prior concerns with the two provisions were only procedural in nature and that it does not view those provisions as inherently unsafe, as the watchdog groups allege.

The interim rule retention of the 11- and 34-hour provisions prevents confusion and disruption to trucking operations and law enforcement that would have taken place had those provisions been eliminated, even for an interim period, adds ATA.

ATA refers to statistics that show highway fatalities involving large trucks have fallen dramatically since the new HOS rules came into force in 2004.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa, said he is disappointed in the decision, however. He said the “court declined to end a dangerous rule that lets truckers drive longer hours.”

The rules, of course, allow truckers more daily time to rest than previous rules.

“We will continue to fight this dangerous rule, though the court refused to intervene this time,” Hoffa said. “This hours-of-service rule is as lawless and as dangerous as opening the border to unsafe Mexican trucks, but the Bush administration thinks it’s above the law,” Hoffa said.

The writing and scientific research of the current rules began back in the mid ’90s, under the Clinton Administration.

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