“New” HOS in Place for a Year

The current hours of service (HOS) rules will be in effect for at least one year, thanks to the Surface Transportation Extension Act (H.R. 5183) being signed into law last night by President George W. Bush.

The “new” HOS will remain law until September 30, 2005 or when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacts a final rule that addresses the drivers’ health concerns raised by the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision on July 16, 2004, whichever comes first.

“This is a common-sense legislative fix to a scary scenario that could have caused great damage to the national economy,” said Gov. Bill Graves, ATA president & CEO.

Though the sudden nature of the announcement makes it premature to assess the staying power of the rules, which were deemed “arbitrary and capricious” by the Court, Rich Clemente, Truckload Carrier Assn.’s director of safety, believes this law will stick. “It’s my understanding that the rule is gospel until September 30 (2005),” Clemente told Fleet Owner. “I was, like a lot of people, pleasantly surprised when I heard this. I’ve known about the highway bill but I had no idea that HOS was a part of it as well.”

Public Citizen, an advocacy group that led the litigation against HOS, had no comment as press time. The Court is still expected to rule on FMCSA’s request to keep the rules in effect— a response the agency filed to the July 16 decision before the HOS “rider” on the highway bill bypassed the judicial process.

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