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Safety advocates list issues to be raised in lawsuit against HOS

In claiming the agency failed to follow the statutory mandate, the petitioners listed three FMCSA decisions related to the new rule, two of which have been in place since the HOS rule was drastically overhauled in 2003. (The Trucker file photo)

By LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff

3/29/2012

WASHINGTON — The new Hours of Service rule is arbitrary and capricious or contrary to law because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration failed to follow a statutory mandate to “reduce fatigue-related incidents and increase driver alertness,” safety advocate groups said Wednesday in a document filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The document outlined issues petitioners Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition expect to raise in their attempt to have the new rule overturned.

In addition to claiming FMCSA failed to follow the statutory mandate, the petitioners said they expected to raise the issue of whether the agency failed to comply with Congress’ mandate that the agency “ensure … the operation of commercial motor vehicles does not have a deleterious effect on the physical condition of the operators.”

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In claiming the agency failed to follow the statutory mandate, the petitioners listed three FMCSA decisions related to the new rule, two of which have been in place since the HOS rule was drastically overhauled in 2003.

Petitioners said the agency:

• Increased the maximum daily driving limit for truck drivers from 10 to 11 hours

• Changed the definition of “off-duty” to include time in which truck drivers remain in their trucks, and 

• Permitted drivers to restart their weekly driving hours after 34 hours off duty, thus dramatically increasing the number of weekly hours that truckers may drive.

Both the daily driving limit and the 34-hour restart rule have been in place since 2003.

The 34-hour restart rule was altered in the rule issued late last year to allow a driver to use the restart provision only once every 168 hours and require that any restart include two consecutive 1 a.m.-5 a.m. periods.

Safety advocates successfully challenged and saw the court overturn HOS rules issued in 2003 and 2005. Their challenge of a rule issued in late 2008 resulted in a court settlement that precipitated the issuance of the rule that is the subject of the current litigation.

The American Trucking Associations has also petitioned the court to review the new rule.

The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at editor@thetrucker.com.

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