OOIDA plans suit over hours rule

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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says it asked nicely, but since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will not change the team driver sleeper-berth provision in new hours-of-service rules, OOIDA says it will take the matter to court.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA, says his organization sent FMCSA an official petition Dec. 5 asking that the sleeper-berth provision for team drivers be changed back to the 2003 rule. FMCSA rejected the petition, but OOIDA did not receive word until two weeks later, Spencer says. OOIDA had 60 days to file suit after the original petition was offered.

“What we asked the agency to do was keep the sleeper-berth provision for team drivers to what it was before,” Spencer says. “They told us no, they won’t. The severity of that issue [requires that] we have to go after it in the courts, to force a reconsideration if at all possible.”

The current provision requires a team driver to have at least eight straight hours of uninterrupted sleep in the berth while the other driver is behind the wheel. The 2003 provision allows team drivers to switch positions more often, which leads to them having less continuous drive time – which, OOIDA argues, leads to more alert drivers.

FMCSA declined to comment. “As a matter of agency policy, we do not comment on possible or pending litigation,” says Duane DeBruyne, FMCSA deputy director of the office of communications.