Hours of Service Wars Redux

March 18, 2009
Safety groups have filed suit asking that current Hours of Service rules be overturned. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has filed a motion in opposition.

Current rules that took effect in 2003 have twice been overturned by the DC Circuit Court. The decision was based on what the Court considered the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) failure of the rule to address the impact of the regulations on driver health.

The four groups supporting the challenge are the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition. The groups point out that the current FMCSA version of the rule was issued November 13, 2008, before the current administration came into office. It went into effect on January 19, 2009.

Arguing against the current regulations, Teamsters general president, Jim Hoffa, said, “The last administration completely disregarded the health and safety of truck drivers. I’m confident President Obama will do better.”

The ATA feels the safety group’s contention that the 11th hour of driving and 34-hour restart portions of current Hours of Service regulations are not supported by scientific studies is not true. Commenting on its motion to intervene in the safety groups’ challenge, ATA, “believes that the FMCSA has done an outstanding job explaining the scientific underpinnings of its decision to retain the HOS provisions. Dramatically positive real-world safety records, experienced since 2004 under the revised HOS rules, also bolster the defense of the ruling.”

Here’s the specific language of the current rules. “11-Hour Driving Limit: May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. 14-Hour Limit: May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period. 60/70-Hour On-Duty Limit: May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. Sleeper Berth Provision: Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.”

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