October 31, 2011 8:30 AM, EDT

FMCSA Postpones Issuing Final HOS Rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it will not meet Friday’s court settlement deadline to issue its final hours-of-service rule.

FMCSA said it continues to “work toward publication” of the rule, but the agency did not say when it planned to complete its work.

The agency said Friday that plaintiffs in the HOS lawsuit — including the Teamsters union and the group Public Citizen — agreed to extend the deadline.

“FMCSA will continue to work toward publishing a final rule as quickly as possible,” an agency spokeswoman said Friday.

The parties to a settlement agreement, which include FMCSA and the plaintiffs, will file their next status report with the court by Nov. 28, the agency said. FMCSA is part of the Department of Transportation.

Agency officials said at American Trucking Associations’ annual Management Conference & Exhibition last week that they were likely to miss Friday’s hours-of-service deadline.

ATA has said it favors the HOS rule in its current form, citing the trucking industry’s safety record.

“While we’re not surprised by the delay, we hope the agency uses this extra time to consider the overwhelming feedback they have received from professional truck drivers, safety professionals and law enforcement officials that the current rules are working and not fix what clearly isn’t broken,” said Sean McNally, ATA’s vice president of communications.

House Republicans including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have asked the Obama administration to withdraw its proposal for a revised hours-of-service rule for the trucking industry.

In its proposed rule announced in December, FMCSA said it was leaning toward cutting driving hours back to 10 from 11 and modifying the rule’s 34-hour reset provision by requiring that it include two rest periods of at least six hours and mandating that they fall between midnight and 6 a.m.

The proposed rule was the result of a settlement that FMCSA reached with groups including Public Citizen that twice successfully sued the agency in federal court to block revision of Depression-era driving limits.