NASSTRAC calls for release of proposed hours rules

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The National Small Shipments Traffic Conference, an industry association that provides advocacy, education and provider relations for transportation executives, on Wednesday, Nov. 10, called on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to publish its proposed hours-of-service rules as soon as possible to allow public comment and debate, and to eliminate uncertainty for carriers and shippers.

FMCSA submitted its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the White House Office of Management and Budget on July 26 and had expected the office to finish its review Oct. 26. The agency had scheduled the NPRM for a Nov. 4 publication date and planned to allow public comment until Jan. 4.

“The elections are now over, and we are still waiting for FMCSA’s proposal,” says Mike Regan, chairman of NASSTRAC’s advocacy committee. “How can motor carriers create business plans, make capital investments or hire drivers when they have no idea what rules will apply in 2012 and beyond?”

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said Monday, Nov. 8, that OMB is expected to release the new hours rules by the end of this month. “To assist and review [the proposed rule], the department requested an additional 30 days, so we expect something within that 30 days,” Ferro told the International Conference on Commercial Driver Health and Wellness in Baltimore. “I think it will be sometime in November. That’s what we’re looking for.” Ferro declined to comment about the specifics of the new rule.

OMB met Oct. 18 with representatives from the National Retail Federation, National Industrial Transportation League, Waterfront Coalition, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Retail Industry Leaders Association, American Bakers Association and National Association of Manufacturers. Federal officials did not provide additional meeting information.

A year ago, FMCSA entered into a settlement agreement to revisit the current rule, issued in 2008, and publish a final rule by July 26, 2011. Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Truck Safety Coalition and the Teamsters union had brought suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which previously had struck down the agency’s 2003 and 2005 versions of HOS.

“It is imperative for the Obama administration and FMCSA to stop sitting on the HOS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” Regan says. “Let the HOS debate begin.”