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Amber Alert

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Final rule makes no changes to hours-of-service regs

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has answered the Court and its critics, crafting an hours-of-service regulation that leaves all of the current requirements intact.

The final rule, expected to be published in the November 19, 2008, Federal Register, continues to allow property-carrying commercial motor vehicle drivers to drive up to 11 hours within a 14 hour, non-extendable window, following at least 10 consecutive hours off duty. The rule also allows motor carriers and drivers to continue to restart calculations of the weekly on-duty limits after the driver has at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.

The rulemaking is in response to a July 2007 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that vacated the 11-hour driving limit and 34-hour restart provision. The Court’s decision was the result of two court challenges filed in early 2006 by groups headed by Public Citizen and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).

FMCSA issued an interim final rule in December 2007, keeping the regulations in place while the agency gathered public comment and additional data. In the final rule, expected to be published tomorrow, FMCSA cites numerous studies and surveys as well as data gathered for the 2007 interim final rule and 2005 final rule as justification of the current limits. FMCSA has set a January 19, 2009, effective date for this final rule.