Editorial: Reaffirming the HOS Rules

This Editorial appears in the Dec. 17 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Kudos to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for reaffirming its new hours-of-service rules for commercial drivers and removing much of the uncertainty that has hung over these rules since the recent court action vacating portions of it.

The “interim final rule” FMCSA Administrator John Hill unveiled last week retained both the 11-hour driving day and the 34-hour restart rule, two provisions of the rules that are vital to the trucking industry if it is to continue to efficiently deliver the nation’s goods.

Hill rightly defended the rules in response to the court action, citing “comprehensive safety data that is new and shows what’s been going on since the rules went into place. In 2006, the commercial motor vehicle fatality rate is the lowest on record.”

We are heartened at the success of the HOS rules and believe the safety data reinforce that the new rules work and need to be retained.

FMCSA has “made an important contribution to highway safety by keeping in force hours-of-service rules that have led to a reduction in deaths and injuries over the last several years,” said Bill Graves, president of American Trucking Associations.

We strongly agree with Hill’s comments that the safety record of the industry in recent times undercuts the misguided claims by certain advocacy groups that the HOS rules create an unsafe environment. “We have data now that supports the fact that the 11th hour of driving, with a 10-hour rest period off-duty, really does combine for a safe operating environment,” he said.

Unfortunately, one of those advocacy groups is already threatening to sue FMCSA for a third time over the HOS rules. We believe this would turn out to be an unnecessary and ultimately unproductive action.

In any event, we now have even more confidence that FMCSA wrote a good set of rules, and that the rules have been proven where it matters most — not in court, but on the nation’s highways.

As Administrator Hill put it: “There’s some form of litigation on every rule that we promulgate, so we’ll be preparing” to defend “what we publish. We’re prepared to go to court to defend this rule if need be.”

Thank you, Administrator Hill. Now we can get back to work without worrying that our industry’s work rules will be turned upside down again.