The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is expected to soon file its official response to the hours of service (HOS) rule “rider” to the federal highway bill, which keeps the current rules in effect for a year.
Paraphrasing the release, which is expected to be published shortly, David Longo, FMCSA spokesperson, told Fleet Owner, “Congress’s intent was to provide the agency, until September 30, 2005, time to revise the hours of service rules to work on the concerns voiced by the U.S. District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. What the FMCSA recognizes is the intent of Congress in H.R. 5183 to avoid widespread disruption in the enforcement of the rules.”
Longo underscored the agency’s belief that the current rules are safer than the “old” rules.
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 to the highway bill bypassed the judicial process.
Longo declined to comment whether the Court’s ruling could have an impact on the rules until the September 30 deadline.
“We’re treading in murky waters since we’re dealing with judicial versus legislative actions,” said Bill MacLeod, FMCSA spokesperson. “However, when the Congress acts, the courts have to act as needed.”
However, the highway bill does represent a marked victory for the agency the trucking industry. “With this extension, we now have ample time for federal regulators to comply with the Court. To rush to judgment and go back to the old rule, as requested by trucking industry critics, would have immediately eliminated the critical safety benefits of the current rule,” said Gov. Bill Graves, American Trucking Assns. president & CEO.
Public Citizen, the advocacy group that initiated the lawsuit against HOS, declined to comment at press time. Public Citizen opposed FMCSA’s request to keep the current rules in effect, claiming they are “much worse” than the old rules.
FMCSA and Public Citizen said the Court is expected to make its decision soon.