The agency had promised to release the rule no later than Dec. 28 as part of the court settlement between the FMCSA and safety advocacy groups who have successfully challenged HOS rules on three different occasions.
If released as scheduled, the final rule would be published one day short of a year from when the proposed rulemaking was announced Dec. 23, 2010.
Based on the FMCSA’s stated preference and on recent Congressional testimony of FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, most trucking industry stakeholders believe the new rule will lower the number of daily driving hours from 11 to 10.
Trucking associations, motor carriers, truck drivers and lawmakers — a vast majority of them Republicans — say the industry’s safety record since the 11-hour rule was instituted in 2004 is proof the current rule doesn’t need to be changed.
Truckers also cite lower wages they say will accompany fewer driving hours each week.
Proponents of the 10-hour rule say the current rule is unsafe.
Their argument was bolstered by the recent announcement that the number of truck-related fatalities increased 8.7 percent in 2010.
Regardless of what the new rule says, one side or the other will likely challenge it in court.
Proponents of the change also say the rule is going to save American taxpayers up to $2.4 billion in lives saved, injuries prevented and reduced health and medical costs. It also has the potential to create nearly 40,000 new jobs in the trucking industry.
Opponents counter that putting 40,000 more trucks on the road is a safety hazard in itself.
The proposed rule has at least two other changes that have brought the ire of trucking.
It would retain the “34-hour restart” provision allowing drivers to restart the clock on their weekly 60 or 70 hours by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. However, the restart period would have to include two consecutive off-duty periods from midnight to 6 a.m. Drivers would be allowed to use this restart only once during a seven-day period.
Source: LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff