|Monday, 13 August 2012 14:46|
As CTN has previously reported, last December the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued its latest final rule covering hours-of-service for truckers operating in interstate commerce. We cautioned that lawsuits over the final rule were in the works.
During late July, a flurry of legal filings occurred against FMCSA in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Main petitioners challenging the final adopted rules are the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and Public Citizen, Advocated for Highway Safety and the Auto Safety, Truck Safety Coalition. There are numerous interveners in the case, virtually all on the side of the ATA. Amicus briefs siding with the ATA have also been filed by a coalition of 15 shipping groups including the American Chamber of Commerce.
Basically, safety advocacy groups think FMCSA issued a final rule that did not do enough to reduce fatigued driving (they believe the rule permits too much driving). The trucking industry is challenging the basis for various provisions adopted and focused on the changes made affecting the usability of the 34-hour restart provision. Many of the newly adopted rules don’t go into effect until next year.
Changes to the 34-hour restart include a provision that a trucker would need two consecutive overnight periods off-duty between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. in order to restart their 60/70 hour clock. The new rules also limited usage to once every 7 days and a notation must be made in the logbook that a restart was taken.
Unfortunately, regulators seem to have forgotten that drivers must log home terminal time regardless of which time zone they are in. So, for instance a California based trucker using the restart provision on the east coast would necessarily need to have his overnight periods occur between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. local time – entering the flow of traffic at the peak rush hour in eastern cities. Conversely, a New York trucker using the restart provision on the west coast, he’d need breaks that occur between 10 p.m. and
Clearly, if the idea is to give drivers the opportunity to get restorative rest during normal sleep cycles, FMCSA made a huge error with this change. On the other hand, the DC court has typically sided with arguments advanced by safety advocacy groups. I will not be surprised that the final rule will eventually be remanded back to the agency for a re-do.