FMCSA seeks action in HOS court ruling
Sep 1, 2004 2:15 PM
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is seeking more time to address a recent federal court ruling that has put the new hours-of-service (HOS) rule into limbo. The court ruled in July that new HOS rules are "arbitrary and capricious," and listed concerns including driver health issues, an increase in maximum driving time from 10 hours to 11 hours, and sleeper berth exceptions.
"Right now, the tank truck industry, indeed the entire trucking industry, has three basic questions: Will the FMCSA appeal? What do I do now? And what's the timeline for future changes?" says Cliff Harvison, National Tank Truck Carriers president.
"This notice answers two of those questions," he adds. "We have learned that the agency will not appeal to the Supreme Court, and FMCSA has specifically told trucking to continue to use today's hours-of-service regulations. However, we don't know the timeline for change."
Harvison expects the court to hear arguments on the length of the stay, which should be in mid-September.
"After that, the court will set a 'drop dead' date for FMCSA to publish either a new proposal or a new set of final rules. That latter date will be the one of critical importance to our membership," he said.
FMCSA filed the latest action August 30 that would (if approved) allow the new rule to remain in effect for the time being. In addition, the agency would have time to address and correct the concerns of the court about the new rule, according to the FMCSA information.
FMCSA filed the motion in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to stay further action in the HOS lawsuit filed by Public Citizen and other plaintiffs.
After consultations with federal and state officials, FMCSA believes a stay is necessary to avoid substantial disruption in the enforcement of HOS requirements, as it remains unclear as to what safety regime would emerge.
While the court weighs the agency's motion, FMCSA is seeking comments on the costs and benefits associated with electronic on-board recorders, according to information published September 1 in the Federal Register. The recorders, if implemented, would document driver compliance with HOS rules.
In addition, the agency has entered into contracts with several entities for literature reviews pertaining to the effect of HOS regulations on driver health. "These actions will produce necessary information contributing to a revised hours-of-service rule," FMCSA stated.
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