Rule Allowing Truckers to Spend More Time behind the Wheel Will Be Revised
by Matthew Madia, 10/28/2009
Check off another one of the Bush administration’s midnight regulations that will be changed by the Obama administration. From the Public Citizen press release:
WASHINGTON - October 27 - The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have agreed to abandon their defense of unsafe, longer working hour standards for truckers the Bush administration issued in 2003. In a settlement of a lawsuit brought by Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the agencies agreed to start a new round of rulemaking that could result in reduced hours of service for truckers.
In March 2009, the groups asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to throw out the hours-of-service rule for the third time. Twice before, in 2004 and 2007, the court vacated the rule on the grounds that the government did not adequately consider the effects of longer hours on traffic safety and driver health. Nevertheless, the Bush administration reissued the same rule each time.
The rule dramatically expanded driving and working hours by allowing truck drivers to drive up to 11 consecutive hours (instead of 10) each shift and by cutting the off-duty rest and recovery time at the end of the week from a full weekend of 50 or more hours to as little as 34 hours.
As a result, the rule allowed truckers to spend up to 17 more hours driving each week than previously allowed, a more than 25 percent increase over the prior rule, despite strong evidence that the increased hours would lead to more traffic fatalities and serious consequences for driver health. Today’s settlement requires the government to draft a new proposed rule governing hours of service within nine months and to publish a final rule within 21 months.
The only drawback is that the Bush-era rule will remain in effect while DOT navigates the rulemaking process.
We’ve added this update to our midnight regulations chart which keeps track of the current status of some of the most controversial rules issued by the Bush administration in its final months in office. For more on how the Obama administration has handled those rules, see this report OMB Watch released last week: “Turning Back the Clock: The Obama Administration and the Legacy of Bush-era Midnight Regulations.“