The Teamsters, Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and the Truck Safety Coalition are once again attacking the five-year-old HOS rules in court.
The groups asked an appeals court to review what they call "a dangerous Bush-era regulation that increased the amount of time truck drivers can spend behind the wheel."
The rules, passed by the Bush Administration in 2003, have been in the works by the Federal Motor carrier Administration since the latter half of the 1990’s when President Bill Clinton was in the White House.
They allow drivers to drive 11 hours, one more than previously permitted, but require them to take more time off in a day, including eight consecutive hours off. Plus, the rules shut drivers down at 60 hours in a week and provide a 34-hour period to recover from cumulative fatigue.
The coalition also sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asking him to begin work on a new regulation. "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.
According to the ATA however, trucks on the U.S. highways are safer now, while operating under the federal HOS regulations, than they have ever been. The ATA says a number of myths dispelled by the organization are the basis for a lawsuit filed by highway “gadflies” on Monday.
The rates of truck-involved fatal crashes and injuries have declined every year since the current HOS regulations went into effect. Ignoring these facts, the Teamsters and the other lobby groups filed suit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Monday for the third time over these HOS rules.
The rules currently in place reduced the maximum length of the truck driver’s workday by at least one hour and increased the daily required number of hours of rest by two hours. Drivers are required to rest at least 10 hours between shifts, with at least 8 of those hours in the sleeper berth if it is used while on the road. Within the shorter workday, the rules allow 11 hours of driving instead of the previous 10.
In January 2009, the FMCSA responded to these same allegations when it rejected Public Citizen’s petition to reconsider the HOS rules. FMCSA’s response details how the HOS regulations have stood up to rigorous tests in the real world: "The 11-hour driving rule and 34-hour restart have now been in effect since January 2004. During this five-year period – representing billions of commercial motor vehicle driver hours and hundreds of billions of miles traveled — the significant increase in truck crashes and fatalities that one would have anticipated, based on Petitioners’ criticism, has simply failed to occur. Indeed, the overall large truck fatality rate is at its lowest level since records have been kept."
A full list of Hours of Service Rules Myths and Facts can be found at the ATA’s website.