Safety groups opposed to longer truck driver hours of service on Friday filed the second court challenge to new federal work rules for truck drivers.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Public Citizen, the Truck Safety Coalition, and two truck drivers filed a lawsuit seeking judicial review of the regulation. The groups slammed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for keeping the 11-hour daily driving limit in the final rule released Dec. 16, 2011.
The alliance led by Advocates and Public Citizen wanted a 10-hour daily driving limit and sought the elimination of the 34-hour restart provision. The FMCSA revised the 34-hour restart provision but didn’t eliminate it and kept the 11-hour driving limit, claiming it didn’t have enough evidence to strike it.
“Given the FMCSA’s mission to prevent truck-related deaths and injuries, it is appalling that the agency issued yet another rule that fails to adequately address truck driver fatigue and puts the public’s safety at risk,” said Henry Jasny, vice president and general counsel at Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
The lawsuit will lead to many more hours of litigation over federal truck driver hours of service rules that have been embroiled in legal disputes since 2003. Public Citizen, Advocates and their allies challenged three versions of the HOS rule introduced under the Bush administration, only dropping their most recent lawsuit after the Obama administration agreed to develop the rule released in December.
The FMCSA is now being challenged on the HOS issue from two directions. The American Trucking Associations filed a lawsuit attacking the rule earlier this month.
“We cannot allow this rulemaking, which was fueled by changed assumptions and analyses that do not meet the required legal standards, to remain unchallenged,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said in a statement.
The ATA is unhappy with revisions to the 34-hour restart provision that will keep some drivers off-duty longer before allowing them to start a new work week.
The new rule requires truck drivers spend two back-to-back 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods off-duty before restarting their hours of service logs for a new week. That means truckers who go off the clock after 1 a.m. Saturday will not be able to resume driving until 5 a.m. Monday morning, rather than Sunday afternoon.
Congress first ordered the Department of Transportation to revise the hours of service rule for truck drivers in 1995.