The Hours-of-Service (HOS) rule for commercial truck drivers has essentially been upheld yet again by a federal court. This morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit largely denied petitions to vacate the rule filed by two petitioners—  the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) and Public Citizen— that opposed aspects of the rule from opposing standpoints on regulating truck drivers.

The court did agree with ATA that short-haul drivers should not have to comply with the rule’s 30-minute off-duty break requirement, and so vacated just that part of the rule.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown, who filed the opinion for the court, wrote “… we conclude that what remains of the 2003 [HOS] Final Rule after two remands and three rulemakings are highly technical points best left to the agency. We therefore generally affirm the rule and vacate only the agency’s application of the 30-minute break to short-haul drivers.”

Apparently wearied by what she termed the “protracted rulemaking” on HOS that extends back to 1999, in her conclusion Brown remarked: “It is often said the third time’s a charm. That may well be true in this case, the third of its kind to be considered by the Circuit.

“With one small exception, our decision today brings to an end much of the permanent warfare surrounding the HOS rules,” she added. “Though FMCSA won the day not on the strengths of its rulemaking prowess, but through an artless war of attrition, the controversies of this round are ended.”