The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Tuesday announced its final hours of service rule, and it remains unchanged from the "interim" rule the trucking industry has been working under after the DC Court of Appeals struck down a similar HOS rule. (See my earlier blog posts on this topic.)
Truck drivers are limited to driving for only 11 hours and working for no more than 14 hours each day. The prior rule limited drivers to 10 hours of driving. This is one of the most frequently violated rules in the trucking industry. The driver's logs, which are supposed to record how the driver spends his time behind the wheel, are frequently called "comic books" in the industry because they are so often faked.
The rule will become effective Jan. 19, 2009, the day before the current administration leaves office.
Public Citizen has been fighting the rule in court since it was first announced in 2005.
In July 2007, the court remanded the Hours of Service rules to FMCSA, ruling that the agency must provide better explanations of its justifications for adopting the 11-hour drive time and 34-hour restart provisions of the rule. In December, FMCSA announced that it was keeping the 11-hour and the 34-hour provisions in an Interim Final Rule. In January, a federal appeals court denied Public Citizen's request to invalidate the Interim Final Rule.
Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook issued a statement denouncing the rule, saying, "FMCSA's rule, which ignores mountains of safety research, authorizes the exact same 11-hours of driving and 34-hour restart provisions of rules past - rules that the court deemed were inadequate. Under the rule, drivers may continue to log a physically and mentally demanding 77 hours behind the wheel in a seven-day period, take a mere 34 hours off, then hit the road to do it all over. In addition, drivers can be required to work 14 hours a day, which includes loading and unloading cargo. The rule also fails to require electronic on-board recorders that are essential to assure effective enforcement of the rule." See: www.citizen.org/pressroom/release.cfm