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FMCSA sends direction for new HOS rule to DOT

As part of the NPRM process, the FMCSA has set forth the general direction for a new rule, which following a review by DOT officials and the Office of Management and Budget would be published in the Federal Register and be subject to comments from the general public.

The Trucker Staff

7/9/2010

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration late last month sent to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation what in essence is the first draft of a new Hours of Service rule, one month earlier than required by the settlement of a lawsuit brought against the current rule.

According to the DOT website, the rule is currently in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) stage.

As part of the NPRM process, the FMCSA has set forth the general direction for a new rule, which following a review by DOT officials and the Office of Management and Budget would be published in the Federal Register and be subject to comments from the general public.

At this stage, the proposal is by no means in a near final form, a source with knowledge of the rulemaking process said, but neither could the agency eventually publish a Final Rule that was totally opposite the direction set forth in the NPRM.

According to the schedule, the DOT will complete its review of the proposal in time for it to be sent to the OMB by July 26.

The OMB has 90 days to review the proposal before it is scheduled to be published November 4 for the public comment period, which will end Jan. 4, 2011.

A new HOS rule is part of an agreement by FMCSA to “review and reconsider the 2008 rule” as the basis for a settlement of the most recent lawsuit against HOS brought by the Safety Coalition and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Within the agreement, FMCSA said it would submit the NPRM to the OMB for review nine months from the date of the settlement (Oct. 26) and would publish a final rule within 21 months of the date of settlement, which would be July 26, 2012.

Since the settlement was announced, FMCSA has held several public listening sessions, including one at the Mid-America Trucking Show last March.

The proposal was sent to DOT only a few days after a group of safety organizations, through a comment posted on www.regulations.gov, suggested reducing the daily driving hours to eight and asked that the 34-hour restart rule be eliminated.

Barb Kampbell of The Trucker staff may be contacted to comment at barbkampbell@thetrucker.com.