To the surprise of absolutely no one, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (www.teamsters.org), along with a number of political action safety groups such as Public Citizen, CRASH (Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways), Parents Against Tired Truckers and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, have filed a challenge to the new Hours of Service (HOS) regulations recently issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) (www.fmcsa.dot.gov).
Together they have filed a Petition for Reconsideration asking the FMCSA to re-evaluate several aspects of the new rule, which took effect on October 1, 2005. In a nutshell, these groups believe the nation's roads and drivers are no safer with the 2005 revision than they were with the previous 2003 rules, which they vigorously opposed and successfully got the Federal Court of Appeals to reject.
"This new rule is almost identical to the current rule and the two additional changes they made — the sleeper berth modification and the new short haul provision — put our drivers at greater risk," claims Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president. The sleeper berth change now requires an eight-hour rest period, while the 2003 rules required two rest periods with one being at least two hours long. Most team drivers now split their rest periods into two, five-hour stints, according to the Teamsters.
"The only thing this will do is force team drivers to drive for eight hours straight, causing drivers to be more fatigued," Hoffa says.
The coalition petitioners also aren't happy that the FMCSA retained the 11-hour driving time, an additional hour than previously allowed under the old, pre-2003 rules.
The groups have until October 19 to file a legal challenge to the rule, 60 days from the date the FMCSA issued the revised rules. Chances are good that's exactly what will happen.
Learn more about Hours of Service rules at www.logisticstoday.com/regulation