ATA: Petitioners ignoring safety record of new HOS rules

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Updated Apr 5, 2010

A petition that asks the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reconsider some of the details of the truck drivers’ hours-of-service rules is ill-advised and raises no new substantive safety issues, the American Trucking Associations said today, Dec. 19.

Public Citizen — which on Thursday, Dec. 18, asked FMCSA to reconsider the HOS rules — was joined by the the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Teamsters and the Truck Safety Coalition. Public Citizen and its allies argue that the rules lengthen the work day and allow trucking companies to coerce drivers to drive when fatigued.

Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer, on Thursday, Dec. 18, wrote the federal Office of Management and Budget and U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to approve new regulations that will require the use of electronic onboard recorders for motor carriers with a history of failing to comply with hours-of-service rules. By automatically creating an electronic record of the vehicle’s travel, EOBRs improve compliance with hours-of-service rules, ATA says.

“We believe that a new EOBR regulation will help to further improve the safety compliance posture of motor carriers, which could lead to further truck safety improvements in the years ahead,” Graves said in the letter. “I know we share this important goal.”

FMCSA on Nov. 19 published a final rule adopting the provisions of its Dec. 17, 2007, interim final rule on the hours rules. The agency issued the December 2007 IFR to hold current regulations in place pending a reconsideration ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Under the final rule, commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers may continue to drive up to 11 hours within a 14-hour nonextendable window from the start of the workday, following at least 10 consecutive hours off duty. And motor carriers and drivers may continue to restart calculations of the weekly on-duty limits after the driver has at least 34 consecutive hours off duty. The 11-hour and 34-hour rules were at the heart of Public Citizen’s second challenge to the hours rules.

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FMCSA has no deadline for ruling on Public Citizen’s latest reconsideration petition, according to ATA, which says the petition, if rejected, would not delay the rule’s Jan. 19 effective date.