Nothing soon on hours rule

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Efforts to revise federal hours-of-service rules will be delayed at least another year as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducts new studies on the effects of any such changes, the administration says. A moratorium on issuance of a final rule ended on Oct. 1.

The studies, centering on costs and benefits of HOS changes, will take at least a year to complete, FMCSA spokesman David Longo told CCJ. And while the agency will try to move forward on ideas for new hours proposals between now and then, no new proposals are likely before the new studies are completed and the results analyzed. Also, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks likely will add to the delay as DOT and FMCSA resources are focused on anti-terrorism efforts.

Major criticism of FMCSA’s current proposal centered on the agency’s methodology in estimating costs, benefits and the impact on small businesses. To answer the critics, FMCSA decided last summer to hire an outside firm to run new figures. That firm was hired in late summer and began its work last month. According to Longo, the firm will undertake three reviews: a “regulatory impact analysis” that includes a new cost-benefit analysis looking at both direct and indirect impacts; a “regulatory flexibility analysis” of the impact on small businesses and the number of small entities affected by any new rules; and a “statement of energy effects” to examine the environmental impact of the rules.