An attorney for the coalition that won two court victories over recent hours of service rules for truckers says the most recent proposed rule a step in the “right direction,” but it may not go far enough to stop a lawsuit.
“The proposal is not a panacea, it doesn’t meet the positions that we would like to see, but it certainly moves the issue in the right direction,” Henry Jasny, senior counsel for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, told federal officials.
The proposed rule would take corrective action toward rules that already allow truckers to drive “excessively long hours” on “intense operating schedules,” Jasney said, adding that description applies to “some drivers,” but not “all drivers.”
The attorney spoke on behalf of Advocates and its allies, Public Citizen and the Teamsters union, which sued the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration over previous versions of the HOS rules, at a full-day HOS listening session Thursday.
In December, the FMCSA released a proposed rule that would limit truckers to a daily 13-hour work window, mandate breaks and a change to the 34-hour restart provision, and potentially reduce the daily driving limit from 11 to 10 hours.
That’s not as big a cut in daily driving time as the labor-consumer-insurance coalition would like, said Jasny — who seemed to be the only opponent of the current 11-hour driving limit at the listening session in Arlington, Va.
“Our view has always been that you should stop after eight consecutive hours,” he told a panel of FMCSA officials headed by Administrator Anne S. Ferro. But “10 hours should be acceptable to an industry that lived on 10 hours for many years.”
Truckers were limited to 10 hours of driving in a 15-hour workday until the Bush administration introduced the current 11-hour rule in 2003. The latest rulemaking is required by a legal settlement between the FMCSA and Jasny’s coalition.
That settlement requires the agency to issue a new final rule by the end of July. Advocates could challenge the new rule in court again. “We think less is more, and that you should have a rule that moves back toward eight hours,” Jasny said.
But the FMCSA’s proposal would “improve safety by reducing the hours truck drivers can drive and work,” he said. “We do support the return to a 10-hour limit.”
Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com