Final hours rule due by May 31

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Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration already planned to issue a final rule this spring on reforming hours-of-service regulations, the Department of Transportation agreed as part of a settlement of a lawsuit to publish the rule by May 31. FMCSA had declared as early as last May that with 53,000 comments in the docket and several public forums to take comment, the agency had all the information it needed to move to a final rule. As of late March, the rule remains under review by the White House.

Several safety groups last fall sued DOT to complete several motor carrier safety rulemakings. (See “Groups sue for action on rule,” page 13, January 2003.) Under the Feb. 24 settlement filed in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Columbia Circuit, the DOT will publish final rules in the Federal Register by deadlines that stretch through June 2004.

In addition to the hours-of-service rule, the two sides agreed that DOT will publish the following, with the rules taking effect 60 days after publication:

  • A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for training standards for new commercial driver’s license holders by Nov. 1 and a final rule by May 31, 2004.
  • A final rule on background checks for new CDL holders, including what information prospective employers must get and what information prior employers are required to furnish by March 30, 2004.
  • A NPRM on minimum training requirements for drivers of longer-combination vehicles by Sept. 1 and a final rule by March 30, 2004.
  • A final rule regarding permits to transport hazardous materials by June 30, 2004. If the DOT decides it is necessary to publish a NPRM, it must be done by Dec. 1.