The federal regulation for truck driver hours of service (HOS) still fails to satisfy much needed improvements to protect the public from weary truckers and should be judicially reviewed, according to Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition, and two truck drivers involved in a lawsuit filed on February 24 challenging the new regulations.
The lawsuit was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the parties are seeking judicial review of the final HOS rule which was passed on December 16, 2011, by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which argues that the final ruling failed to lower the 11-hour consecutive driving limit, despite the agency’s statement in the proposed ruling that “the 10-hour rule is currently FMCSA’s currently preferred option” because it would most effectively reduce driver fatigue. “Although FMCSA had no data to support its adoption of the longer 11-hour limit in 2004, it decided to stand by that mistake even though it comes at the cost of numerous additional fatigue-related crashes,” according to the plaintiff party.
The plaintiffs also stated that the new final rule fails to eliminate the 34-hour restart provision “that encourages cumulative fatigue and allows drivers to exceed weekly driving and work limits.” That provision, first put into effect in 2004, lowers the off-duty time drivers are allowed from 48 or more hours to 34 hours off-duty after driving up to 70 hours and working more than 80 hours over eight days. Changes included in the December 2011 final rule do not prevent those who work on a schedule of 70 hours of driving in eight-days, from continuously using the short and unacceptable 34-hour restart every week, or being required to do so by their trucking company, said the plaintiffs.