Frozen food group urges US DOT to resolve the Hours-of-Service issue

Dec. 1, 2007
The American Frozen Food Institute is urging Secretary of Transportation Mary E Peters to bring resolution to a United States Court of Appeals decision

The American Frozen Food Institute is urging Secretary of Transportation Mary E Peters to bring resolution to a United States Court of Appeals decision vacating the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's 2005 hours-of-service (HOS) regulations.

A July 2007 decision by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated two HOS provisions citing various procedural issues identified during the rulemaking process, but did not say that the rules were unsafe.

In 2003, the FMCSA issued rules that permitted truckers to increase the number of hours worked. The rules allowed truckers to drive 11 hours per day and to “restart” their 60-/70-hour weekly limit by taking 34 consecutive hours off duty. After a challenge by a group of petitioners led by Public Citizen, however, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the rules, finding that FMCSA “failed to consider the impact of the rules on the health of drivers.”

In response to the court's action, FMCSA created a model aimed at assessing a truck driver's fatigue and promulgated new rules that took effect in October 2005. These new rules were almost identical to the 2003 rules, and again were the target of a judicial challenge by Public Citizen. The interest group charged that FMCSA failed to provide the public an opportunity for notice and comment on the driver fatigue model, which was used as the basis for the new rule.

On July 24, 2007, citing inadequate explanation as to the reason for the new rules and FMCSA's failure to provide a public notice and comment period, the court sided with Public Citizen and vacated the provisions in the rule that increased the daily driving limit from 10 to 11 hours and required 34 consecutive hours of rest.

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