The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says keeping the current hours of service rule, introduced Jan. 4, in place while the agency works through a federal court’s concerns is “necessary to avoid substantial interference with enforcement of the HOS requirements.”
The FMCSA reaffirmed its hope that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will stay a July 16 ruling overturning the new HOS rule the agency took most of a decade researching and rewriting. FMCSA says it wants at least six months to make necessary changes to the rule and the supporting documentation behind it to satisfy the court’s concern. The agency filed a brief Sept. 20 with the court responding to arguments by Public Citizen and other groups, who originally sued to overturn the rule and are now asking the court to scrap the rule immediately and force the agency to revert to the 70-year-old rule it replaced at the first of the year.
The appeals court vacated the rule, arguing the agency failed to consider the new rule’s impact on the health of drivers – as it was required to do by Congress – when the FMCSA revamped the rule.
In response, FMCSA did not appeal the ruling but asked the appeals court Aug. 30 to keep the current hours-of-service regulations in place for at least six months – and probably considerably longer – while the agency works to address the court’s concerns.
Requiring the trucking industry to return suddenly to the old rule would “produce a potentially uncertain and problematic patchwork of enforcement obligations, resulting in significant confusion and substantially hamper enforcement” of the hours rule, FMCSA said.
Several groups, including the American Trucking Associations and the Truckload Carriers Administration, filed briefs supporting FMCSA’s call for a stay. But the groups that brought the original suit argued that a stay would cause harm to drivers and allow the FMCSA to continue enforcing a law that threatens public safety.
In its new filing this week, the agency argued such dire predictions by Public Citizen and others were incorrect. Changing the rule immediately or reverting back to the old rule, “will result in a patchwork of inconsistent HOS requirements in numerous states