The advocacy group Public Citizen, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and various safety groups have filed a petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to reconsider the new truck drivers’ hours of service (HOS) rule announced by the agency on Aug. 19.
The new rule was FMCSA's response to the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that vacated the HOS rule issued in 2003 on the grounds that the agency had failed to consider the rule's health impact on drivers. Public Citizen led the court case against the existing HOS rule.
When FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg announced the new rule. “The court vacated the  rule based on driver health, and driver health only,” Sandberg said on Aug. 19. In developing the new rule, she said FMCSA “addressed driver health issue very extensively. We believe we had the science and the data [to support the 2003 rule] to begin with. That's what we said during the court case, and the court wanted us to provide it in a more thorough manner.”
Any legal challenge to the rule must be filed with the court within 60 days of the issuance date of the new rule. Public Citizen has not yet filed any challenge to the new HOS. Public Citizen and Teamsters were not available for comment on any further court actions at press time.
The new rule makes two significant changes to the existing rule: a minor change to the split sleeper berth exemption and a provision that increases the allowable hours for some short-haul drivers. The petition asserts that the new rule illustrates FMCSA’s failure to give precedence to highway safety as its primary goal.
“Time and time again the preamble to 2005 final rule cites the economic efficiencies that benefit the trucking industry as outweighing the safety costs that will be borne by the public,” the petition said.
Additionally, the petition said: “In light of the massive amount of evidence that does not support the agency’s conclusions, and given the agency’s mission to uphold safety as its highest priority, the results of FMCSA’s review of the scientific evidence in the record is unfair and heavy-handed…the only studies that the agency finds to be accurate and credible are those that reinforce the agency’s previous and preexisting view, embodied in the existing HOS regulation.”