In response to yet another challenge to its Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, the Federal Motor Carriers Administration (FMCSA) announced this morning that it will “completely rewrite” the 2008 HOS regulations. The agency will issue a proposed rulemaking within nine months and a new Final Rule in less than two years. (Read more about Hours of Service Regulations)

In March 2009, Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters asked a Washington DC Appeals court to throw out the current HOS rule. The groups argued that scientific studies do not support the retention of the 11th hour of driving and 34-hour restart provision, and that those provisions put driver health and public safety at risk. According to Joan Claybrook, president of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), the current rule, “Put[s] industry profits in the driver’s seat and public safety in the back seat.” (Read more about concerns with proposed HOS regulations)

The Teamsters issued a press release today praising the decision. The union’s general president Jim Hoffa said that he is pleased that federal regulators agreed to reform the hours of service rule for truck drivers. "We will continue to push for a rule that protects truck drivers, instead of the greed of the trucking industry," Hoffa said. "Longer hours behind the wheel are dangerous for our members and the driving public…It's time for FMCSA to do what Congress has told it to do all along -- protect drivers' health and safety.”

In March 2009, American Trucking Assns. (ATA) filed a motion to intervene in the battle between FMCSA and the coalition, stating that it was seeking to intervene in order to protect the interests of its motor carrier members. “FMCSA has done an outstanding job explaining the scientific underpinnings of its decision to retain the HOS provisions,” ATA noted.

FMCSA first promulgated the11-hour rule in 2003, increasing the number of hours truckers can drive. The Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit struck down the rule in 2004, but Congress reinstated it as part of the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2004.