This week, FMCSA issued an interim Final Rule on Hours of Service, which is…. the same as the existing rules! What is this all about? To recap: FMCSA changed the hours of service rules in 2004 at the direction of Congress. They were sued by public safety groups, such as “CRASH”, and “PATT” (that’s Parents Against Tired Truckers), complaining that the new rules allowed the drivers to work too many hours. This summer, a U.S. Court of Appeals agreed that FMCSA had erred in issuing the rules, and vacated some key points of the current rules, such as the 34 hour reset of the 70 hour rule. The implementation of the Court’s decision, however, has been delayed twice. Now, prior to the Court decision becoming effective, FMCSA has stepped forward and re-issued the current rules, while stating that it is working on a new, permanent set of rules, which will be issued in 2008.
What does this mean RIGHT NOW? The current rules stay in effect, and will be in effect for probably the next 6-12 months.
What will happen next? Who knows? I imagine the advocacy crazies will be back in Court petitioning for an injunction or something, which they might get. What will DOT’s new rules look like in 2008? Probably going back to only 10 hours driving, but keeping the 34 hour reset, I bet. But stay tuned, as we haven’t heard the last on this issue. The ball is now back in the Court’s court.