Ruling puts brakes on hours-of-service rules - The Packer

Ruling puts brakes on hours-of-service rules

07/20/2004 12:00:00 AM
Terry Scruton

(July 20) Six months after being put into effect, the hours-of-service regulations created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may be put on hold.

On July 16, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled that the administration failed to consider the effect of the rules on the health of drivers when they were created.

The ruling comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by several activist groups — Public Citizen, Parents Against Tired Truckers and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways.

Citing issues such as driver fatigue and road safety, the groups argued that the rules allowed drivers too many consecutive and weekly hours without rest. The groups said they are concerned that fatigued drivers could be a danger to everyone on the roads.

The court agreed, stating on July 16 that the rules would be suspended until they could be revised and the industry would revert to the old rules. However, on July 19, the agency said the new rules would stay in place during a 45-day review period.

During that period, the U.S. Department of Justice and the administration will review the ruling and decide what, if any, further actions will be taken.

Under the previous regulations, which had been in place since 1939, drivers were allowed to work up to 15 consecutive hours, with no more than 10 of those hours spent driving.

The new regulations, which went into effect Jan. 4, state that drivers can work a maximum of 14 consecutive hours, with no more than 11 of those hours spent driving.

Public Citizen hailed the decision as a “sweeping victory” for truck drivers and the general public.

“Tired truck drivers are a major danger on our highways, and this rule was a formula for more deaths and injuries,” Public Citizen president Joan Claybrook said in a news release. “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ignored its mission and approved a standard that violates its own statute.”

The statute in question requires the administration to consider the health of truck drivers when considering any rule or regulation that may effect that health.

The administration issued a statement saying that it was reviewing the court’s decision in an effort to determine the next possible steps.



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