Dec 19, 2008 2:51 PM
A petition that asks the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to reconsider some of the details of the driver hour-of-service (HOS) rules is ill-advised and raises no new substantive safety issues, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) said in a news release December 19.
A number of anti-truck groups and their allies asked the FMCSA to reconsider the HOS rules, which have been proven safe in both scientific research and in actual on-road operations over the last four years on American highways, where crash data shows the trucking industry is safer than it has ever been, according to ATA.
Whatever HOS rules are in force, their effectiveness will be diminished if drivers do not comply with them.
In addition, Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer, asked the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters to approve new regulations that will require the use of electronic on-board recorders for motor carriers with a history of failing to comply with HOS rules. By automatically creating an electronic record of the vehicle’s travel, the recorders would improve compliance with HOS rules, ATA said.
"The current HOS rules, which have been in effect since January 2004, have never, contrary to claims from Public Citizen and others, been overturned in court on substantive grounds related to their safety impact," ATA said. "Rather, prior legal rulings have been based on procedural problems. FMCSA has corrected those procedural errors and earlier this year, the District of Columbia Circuit rebuffed a Public Citizen substantive challenge to the 11- and 34-hour provisions as part of the agency’s Interim Final HOS Rule. The reconsideration petition filed yesterday raises no new substantive issues.
"The current rules replaced decades-old rules and made them safer by shortening the drivers’ work day by an hour or more and increasing the drivers’ required daily rest period by two hours, or 25 percent. The rules also permit a restart of the weekly HOS clock if a driver remains off duty for 34 hours or more. The restart is intended to encourage drivers to take extended periods of off-duty rest time at home.
"The current rules were designed to complement the human body’s 24-hour circadian rhythm, and while these rules have been in effect, large truck crash rates, injury rates and death rates have fallen to all-time lows. Scientific studies of safety records have shown the current rules are safe.
Anti-truck groups have made misleading statements about the HOS rules, such as the rules lengthen the work day, when they actually shorten it; and the rules allow trucking companies to coerce drivers to drive when fatigued, when this is illegal and has been since 1982."
FMCSA reissued the HOS rule November 19, 2008. FMCSA has no deadline for ruling on the Public Citizen petition. The reconsideration petition, if rejected, would not delay the January 19, 2009, effective date of the HOS rule, ATA said.
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