Safety groups file another suit against Hours of Service

Five groups – Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), Public Citizen, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters – have filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asking the court to review the final Hours of Service rule issued August 25, 2005, by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The two-page petition is the first step in legally challenging the rule.

Three of the groups – CRASH, PATT and Public Citizen – successfully sued the government over the rule in 2003 and this time are joined by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which filed a critical amicus brief in the previous case, and the Teamsters.

The groups claim, “The 2005 rule dramatically increases both the number of hours that truckers may drive without a break and the number of hours truckers may drive per week. Before 2003, truckers were permitted to drive no more than 10 consecutive hours before taking a break. Now, truckers can drive for 11 hours straight. Before 2003, drivers were barred from driving after they had worked 60 hours in the previous seven days or 70 hours in the previous eight, depending on the company schedule. Under the new rule, truckers can now drive 77 hours in seven days or 88 hours in eight days – a more than 25 percent increase. On-duty hours during which truckers may drive have also climbed, so that a driver working 14-hour shifts under the new rules can now work as many as 84 hours in seven days or 98 hours in eight days – a 40 percent increase over the old limits.”

The groups also claim that “the 2005 rule, like the 2003 rule, fails to require electronic onboard recorders, which would provide reliable data on how many hours truckers drive and permit effective enforcement of the rule. Cheating on paper logbooks is rampant,” they assert.

“With the lives and safety of truck drivers and the driving public on the line, we could not afford to wait indefinitely for the agency to respond,” says Jackie Gillan, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

A copy of the petition is available here.

To see the court’s 2004 decision striking down the 2003 rule, click here.

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