- Five organizations filed a petition asking FMCSA to delay the HOS final rule's implementation date, currently slated for Sept. 29. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Truck Safety Coalition, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers filed the petition dated Tuesday.
- Driver fatigue is the basis of the petition's argument. "The [FMCSA] repeatedly relies on the baseless claim that driver fatigue and the crashes it causes will not increase because the Final Rule does not permit additional driving time beyond the limits provided in the current regulations. Objective research regarding fatigue reveals this assertion to be meritless," according to the petition.
- "We are not anticipating any delay in implementation," Joe DeLorenzo, FMCSA acting associate administrator for enforcement and director of the Office of Enforcement of Compliance, said during a National Tank Truck Carriers webinar June 17. The agency did not comment when asked Wednesday, after the filing of the petition, if it now expects to delay the rule.
When the HOS final rule was issued May 14, it was met with praise from the trucking industry, which had long anticipated the greater flexibility the rule promised. But safety advocates, the Teamsters and members of Congress issued proposals that would result in delayed implementation.
House Democrats passed an infrastructure bill Wednesday, which includes language that specifically delays the HOS rule's implementation. According to the bill text, the final rule wouldn't be effective until the Secretary of Transportation submits a review to Congress.
The bill calls on the secretary to, in consultation with state DOTs, analyze waivers or other allowances that would exempt drivers from the final HOS rule, with the goal of determining "the safety impact, including on enforcements" of the rule, the bill states. The review would use available data, or order data to be collected from fleets and drivers operating under such exemptions, to "determine the incidence of accidents, fatigue-related incidents" and other relevant safety information.
DeLorenzo also clarified during the webinar that FMCSA has discretion over the rule. "It is not a congressional action," he said.
The petition takes issue with each of the four major changes the final rule would make to HOS regulations. It states FMCSA did not take into account historical precedent and data concerning driver fatigue, and failed to do appropriate analysis of the rule's affect on public safety.
"In sum, the Final Rule is not in the public interest and does not meet the agency’s statutory mission in carrying out its duties to assign and maintain safety as the highest priority. The agency had failed to address the significant risk to public safety posed by fatigued drivers of CMVs at a time when large truck crashes continue to increase," the petition states.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) also filed a petition for reconsideration, dated Tuesday. It requests the FMCSA reconsider language in the HOS final rule around adverse driving conditions and personal conveyance. In addition, CVSA asks that FMCSA to "conduct a comprehensive review of all existing HOS exemptions," removing obsolete ones and updating language in others.
For now, the final HOS rule is still set to go into effect Sept. 29. Much of the trucking industry is looking forward to the updated regulations.
"With all the uncertainty of late, carriers and shippers appreciate the HOS changes," said Gail Rutkowski, executive director at the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council. "Any added flexibility is a good thing."