The “Big 4” leaders of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure have asked FMCSA to delay the July 1 implementation date of new driver hours of service (HOS) rules.
In a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood the senior members of the Committee and its Highways and Transit Subcommittee said implementation of the rules should not take place until three months after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rules on petitions challenging various elements of the rules.
Oral arguments in that case were heard March 15 and the court is expected to rule sometime in June. Concerns have been raised that depending on how and when the court rules, industry and law enforcement will have insufficient time to prepare and train for any court-ordered changes before the July 1 implementation date.
The letter, signed by committee chairman Bill Shuster, committee ranking member Nick J. Rahall II, subcommittee chairman Tom Petri and subcommittee ranking member Peter DeFazio said “…moving forward under the current schedule would be an inefficient use of the industry, enforcement community and FMCSA resources if the HOS is altered by the court’s decision.”
Last month FMCSA denied a request by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) for a three month stay saying it was “…unwilling to sacrifice what may be several months of public safety benefits.” The congressional letter appears to be a product of ATA lobbying.
The litigation stems from petitions asking the court to strike down various provisions of the HOS final rule which was published in December, 2011. ATA, along with a number of other industry groups asked the court to order changes to the rule, including its treatment of the “34-hour restart” and prescribed break periods. On the other side of the argument, Public Citizen and others petitioned the court to eliminate the restart provision altogether and require the agency to impose stricter limits on driving time.