Safety groups & Teamsters challenge hours of service rule
In a petition filed in court on Dec.5, five groups – The Truck Safety Coalition, comprised of the Teamsters; Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways; Parents Against Tired Truckers; Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; and Public Citizen – asked the court to review the revised hours-of-service (HOS) rule that was issued by FMCSA on August 25, 2005. They complain that the revised rule increases both the number of hours that truckers may drive without a break and the number of hours truckers may drive per week.
Under the current hours of service rule, truckers may drive 77 hours in 7 days or 88 hours in 8 days – a more than 25 percent increase from the previous rule. On-duty hours during which truckers may drive also have increased, allowing a truck driver working 14-hour shifts to work as many as 84 hours in 7 days or 98 hours in 8 days – a 40 percent increase over the old limits.
Safety advocates also oppose the provision for a 34-hour restart period, which resets the driver’s clock after a 34-hour rest period. According to the Teamsters, this puts drivers behind the wheel 14 hours longer with considerably less rest than the old rules.They express concern that the rules force drivers to work more hours with less rest over the course of a given week., putting the at risk the safety of both truck drivers and members of the public with whom they share the roads.
FMCSA had issued a similar HOS rule in April 2003. However, Public Citizen and two other advocacy groups filed a lawsuit challenging the 2003 rule, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the HOS rule in a July 16, 2004, opinion. The appeals court ruled that FMCSA’s 2003 HOS rule "is arbitrary and capricious because the agency neglected to consider a statutorily mandated factor the impact of the rule on the health of drivers." The appeals court then ordered FMCSA to rewrite the rule.
Even so, many of the provisions in the revised HOS rule are the same as the 2003 rule. The 2003 rule increased truckers’ maximum daily driving time from 10 to 11 hours, decreased the maximum daily shift from 15 to 14 hours and established a mandatory rest period of 10 hours per shift (up from 8 hours in the old rule.) All of those provisions carry over to the revised HOS rule.
Until 2003, truckers were permitted to drive no more than 10 consecutive hours before taking a break and drivers were barred from driving after they had worked 60 hours in the previous 7 days or 70 hours in the previous 8, depending on the company schedule.
According to an article on the Occupational Hazards web site, "more than 5,000 people are killed each year in large truck-related crashes and more than 110,000 are injured," Public Citizen President (and former head of the National Highway Transportation Safety Adminsitration) Joan Claybrook said. "That FMCSA chose in both rules to expand driving hours is astounding given its statutory mandate to make safety its highest priority and Congress’s specific directive to the agency to reduce fatigue-related incidents."
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a "SuperLawyer" in Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks.