Illegal Rule Makes Roads Dangerous, Safety Advocates Say

The Teamsters Union, Public Citizen and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety filed a brief arguing that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) interim final rule regarding hours of service for truck drivers was “illegal” and creates dangerous driving conditions.

“People are dying on the highway because FMCSA is more concerned about making its corporate bosses happy than it is about making our highways safe,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa, claiming that the hours-of service rule could lead to “dangerous fatigue.” He also cited a 20 percent hike in fatal crashes caused by fatigue from 2004-2005.

The final interim rule, reinstated Dec. 11, 2007, allows truck drivers to drive 11 hours within a 14-hour time period and as many as 84 hours per week. FMCSA first issued this hours-of-service rule in 2003, increasing the time truck drivers could drive by one hour. The rule has a history of being twice struck down by the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit but later reinstated.

The Teamsters Union and other safety advocates described FMCSA's actions as “lawless” while ignoring court rulings that threw out the final interim rule. The groups also argued that the rule focuses on the trucking industry's economic needs instead of the health and safety implications for truck drivers.

In a reply brief, FMCSA stated that issuing “an immediate rule was necessary to avoid widespread confusion and to ensure continued enforcement of [hours-of-service] requirements.”

FMCSA also argued that issuing the interim final rule does not violate court orders, claiming that the court never limited the agency's ability to “maintain a uniform safety rule pending further proceedings, let alone require [it] to adopt the specific rewrite that petitioners demand.”

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