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Truckers' recently revised hours-of-service rules are illegal, federal appellate court says


On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that truckers' Hours of Service (HOS) regulations that took effect Jan. 4 — the first major re-write of HOS rules in more than 60 years — are illegal, requiring the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to review and possibly revise the new rules, and revert back to older regulations in the meantime.

The court's three-judge panel determined the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and FMCSA neglected to consider truck drivers' health when revising HOS regulations. The federal agencies can seek an appeal.

"Under the court's rules of procedure, the department has 45 days to review the decision and decide whether to seek other legal remedies," said FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg in a prepared statement. "During that period of time, the current hours-of-service rule, announced in April 2003, remains in effect."

The revised HOS rules were designed to provide commercial truck drivers a work/rest schedule to reduce fatigue. The rules limit truckers to driving 60 hours within seven days or 70 hours in eight days, and require shift changes after a 34-hour off-duty period. Previous rules allowed 10 hours of driving within a 15-hour period and eight off-duty hours between shifts.

USDOT officials projected the rule changes will save 75 lives, and prevent 1,326 fatigue-related injuries and 6,900 property damage-only crashes each year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/20/2004