OOIDA challenges HOS in Court

Jan. 26, 2006
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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA) has filed a petition for review of the most recent hours-of-service rules implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The legal action follows FMCSA’s denial of two OOIDA requests in a Petition for Reconsideration the trade group filed on Aug. 29, 2005.

OOIDA seeks to amend HOS so that when a driver splits his 10-hour mandatory off-duty time into an eight-hour and two-hour period, the two-hour period stops the 14-hour on-duty clock.

OOIDA argues that if the two-hour period does not stop the clock, there is no incentive for drivers to take such a break. FMCSA said that the rest period is mandatory, so there is no question of incentives. The agency added that stopping the clock for a two-hour rest period would allow drivers a near-daily 16-hour on-duty period.

Secondly, OOIDA requested that FMCSA allow teams drivers to revert back to the more flexible 2003 HOS rule that allows drivers to split the 10-hour off-duty time into two blocks, with no period being shorter than two hours. Currently, drivers may split the 10-hour off-duty time into two blocks, so long as one is at least eight hours—regardless of a team or solo driver scenario.

OOIDA said the current rule is “impractical.” OOIDA said that FMCSA has amended the sleeper-berth exemption to include a less-flexible eight-hour block requirement because it assumed in a team driver scenario, one driver would go on-duty five hours then off-duty five hours—which would only be a five hour window for rest. OOIDA argued that often a driver’s period of rest includes the length of time in the passenger seat while the other driver drives plus the off-duty period.

“We’re also looking forward to other industry interests joining with us in this case,” said Jim Johnston, OOIDA president & CEO. “The California Trucking Assn. has already indicated that they would like to piggyback on our suit since procedurally they were not allowed to file a suit on their own.”

In a separate but related issue, FMCSA has accepted an American Trucking Assn. petition for a rulemaking to consider an amendment to the definition of “on-duty time” so that a driver who is part of a team operation could log a two-hour off-duty period while sitting in the passenger seat of the tractor, provided they also take eight consecutive hours of rest in the sleeper berth.

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