Four safety groups have filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to overturn the current hours-of-service regulations, calling for a rule that “improves truck safety, reduces fatigue-related crashes, and safeguards truck driver health.” The groups also sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood urging him to develop and adopt a new regulation.

The Teamsters, Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and the Truck Safety Coalition filed a petition for reconsideration of the final rule with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on December 18, 2008, which was denied on January 16. However, with a new Secretary of Transportation in place, the groups resubmitted their petition.

“We have taken this action with the conviction, based on research and scientific data, that longer driving and working hours are unsafe and promote driver fatigue,” the letter said. “We challenged the two major features of the HOS rule that promote even greater driver fatigue: the provision increasing permissible consecutive driving hours from 10 hours to 11 hours and the provision commonly called the ‘34-hour restart,’ which enables drivers to drive and work substantially longer hours per week than under the HOS rules that prevailed until the 2003 HOS rule took effect.

Read entire article ...

Four safety groups have filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to overturn the current hours-of-service regulations, calling for a rule that “improves truck safety, reduces fatigue-related crashes, and safeguards truck driver health.” The groups also sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood urging him to develop and adopt a new regulation.

The Teamsters, Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and the Truck Safety Coalition filed a petition for reconsideration of the final rule with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on December 18, 2008, which was denied on January 16. However, with a new Secretary of Transportation in place, the groups resubmitted their petition.

“We have taken this action with the conviction, based on research and scientific data, that longer driving and working hours are unsafe and promote driver fatigue,” the letter said. “We challenged the two major features of the HOS rule that promote even greater driver fatigue: the provision increasing permissible consecutive driving hours from 10 hours to 11 hours and the provision commonly called the ‘34-hour restart,’ which enables drivers to drive and work substantially longer hours per week than under the HOS rules that prevailed until the 2003 HOS rule took effect.

“These excessive driving and work hours impose enormous scheduling burdens on drivers and increases stress and further compounds underlying medical conditions that commercial drivers are prone to develop,” the letter continued. “Surveys indicate that more drivers operate their vehicles when sleepy and report higher incidents of falling asleep at the wheel now than under the previous HOS rule….We urge you to direct FMCSA to commence a new HOS rulemaking without delay and look forward to working with you to advance motor carrier safety.”

The hours-of-service rule was initially revised in 2003. Although it was struck down in court by the DC Circuit Court in 2004, FMCSA continued to adopt HOS legislation with the same framework in place, the groups said.

"The last administration completely disregarded the health and safety of truck drivers," said Teamsters general president Jim Hoffa. "I'm confident President Obama will do better."

"It is illogical and unacceptable that the prior administration's solution to truck driver fatigue was longer working and driving hours," said Jackie Gillan, vp for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. "Public health and safety is at stake and there needs to be a new rule."

The final rule adopted in November 2008—which was also met with opposition from groups including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Truckload Carriers Association—is supported by the American Trucking Assns (ATA).

"The American Trucking Assns. welcomes the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s reaffirmation of the Hours of Service rules that have been in place since January 2004,” ATA said at the time. “The HOS rules are safety rules and the trucking industry’s safety performance facts are ones that the public, the media and the Congress will never hear from some so-called safety advocacy groups. Some of these special interest groups continue to mislead the public, the media and Congress by mischaracterizing court rulings and much of the scientific research, and denying that safety in the industry has improved."