WASHINGTON, D.C. — The FMCSA has denied eight petitions for reconsideration from organizations that want the U.S. hours-of-service final rule altered.
Published April 28, the new hours-of-service final rule was intended to address the issue of driver fatigue and sets standards for driving and off-duty time. The previous rules had been in effect with few changes for more than 60 years.
“The new hours-of-service rule strikes a balance between reasonableness, consistency, and enforceability, while improving safety and protecting all highway users," said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Annette M. Sandberg. "Recognizing that carriers, drivers, and law enforcement must prepare for the Jan. 4, 2004, compliance date, we have denied the petitions in sufficient time to allow these groups to meet the compliance deadline.
The petitions were in four categories: requests to allow off-duty time to extend the 14-hour on-duty limit; to exempt utility vehicles and workers from the hours-of-service regulations; for miscellaneous changes, such as changing the definition of commercial motor vehicles; and to allow early compliance with the new hours-of-service rules before the Jan. 4, 2004, effective date.
Pinnacle West Capital Corporation and its subsidiary Arizona Public Service Company; Southern California Edison Company; the Hours-of-Service Coalition, representing businesses with short-haul trucking operations; Edison Electric Institute; FOX News; National Propane Gas Association; Sabil Uplink Communications; and Wal-Mart filed petitions.
FMSCA officials say they compared the relief sought by each petitioner to the core goals in the hours-of-service rulemaking: improved safety; greater opportunity for rest; movement toward the body’s 24-hour clock; and practicality, uniformity, and enforceability of the rule. But the agency chose to deny each of the petitions.
Officials claim the new hours-of-service rule will save up to 75 lives and prevent as many as 1,326 fatigue-related crashes annually. They say the rule reflects scientific driver fatigue studies, a careful evaluation of the more than 53,000 public comments on the proposed rule, and the intent of Congress to safeguard Americans on the nation’s highways.
The final hours-of-service rule is can be viewed on this web site (see the special features buttons on the home page) or on the Internet by searching for docket number FMCSA-97-2350 at http://dms.dot.gov. The rule is document number 23305 on page 465 of the table of contents. The letters to the petitioners are also in this docket.
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