Court Action Filed Against Interim HOS Rule

WASHINGTON — That didn’t take long. Only a week after being introduced, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s latest hours of work docket is being appealed in an effort to put it out-of-service before it can be implemented.

The motion was filed Dec. 19 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit against the FMCSA for what five groups are saying was the administration’s failure to follow the court’s ruling earlier this year. Basically the same collation of special interest groups that have been fighting the rules since they were first rewritten in 2003, Public Citizen, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters have filed the motion to enforce the court’s orders.

An interim HOS rule issued by FMCSA is
being challenged in the U.S. Court of Appeal.

The FMCSA released its Interim Final Rule on Dec. 10. The IFR was issued by the administration following a court ruling in July striking down two provisions in the 2005 HOS rules. The IFR however, included the two provisions as the FMCSA explained it was trying to avoid confusion within the trucking industry. As a result, under the IFR commercial drivers would be allowed an 11-hour drive day and a 34-hour restart provision. Taking exception to the IFR including those two provisions, the groups in their motion urged the court to enforce its orders, vacate the IFR — or at least that portion that reinstates the two invalidated provisions — and direct FMCSA to issue a revised IFR or other authoritative guidance that subjects truck drivers to a 10-hour consecutive driving limit and to the governing 60-hour and 70-hour weekly on-duty limits with no 34-hour restart provision. FMCSA was forced to issue the IFR after the court felt the administration, “failed to give interested parties an opportunity to comment on the methodology of the crash-risk model used to justify the maximum daily and weekly hours drivers could work.”

FMCSA strongly maintains that the rule is based first on safety, and that despite “allegations and innuendoes that the rule is not safe,” the most modern data show it is. The rule’s opponents have criticized the data and are now taking their fight to court to push for new provisions in the HOS rules. Both sides of the debate had a chance to testify before a Senate Subcommittee on Dec. 19. The IFR issued by FMCSA that includes the 11-hour driving day and 34-hour restart provision will go into effect on Dec. 27, unless the U.S. Court of Appeals states otherwise.

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