Here we go again: Four groups have filed a lawsuit in federal court asking that hours-of-service rules for commercial motor vehicle drivers be thrown out.
The same four groups successfully filed court challenges against the rules in 2003 and 2005.
In each case, the D.C. Circuit Court told the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to justify the reasoning behind its rules. Each time, FMCSA re-issued the same rules.
The groups — Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Truck Safety Coalition, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters — oppose two aspects of the HOS rules:
- the increase from 10 to 11 hours of permissible consecutive driving, and
- the provision that enables commercial drivers to restart their weekly on-duty limits after taking 34 consecutive hours off.
In a letter to Secretary of Transportation Raymond LaHood, the groups say they filed the lawsuit because “longer driving and working hours are unsafe and promote driver fatigue.”
They cite a 2008 survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that more commercial drivers operate their vehicles when sleepy and report higher incidents of falling asleep at the wheel now than under the previous HOS rule.
What if the court throws out the HOS rules again? The old rules (10 hours of consecutive driving, no 34-hour restart) would go into effect until FMCSA takes action.
And what FMCSA does could be different this time because of the change from the Bush to the Obama administration.