March 22, 2013 4:00 PM, EDT

Lawmakers Push for HOS Delay

Mike Roemer Photography

A bipartisan group of lawmakers who oversee transportation programs has written a letter asking that the federal government delay enforcement of its latest changes to the hours-of-service rules for truck drivers until three months after a federal appeals court issues its decision on challenges to those changes.

A group of leaders in the Senate and House Appropriations Committees’ subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and related agencies sent their letter Wednesday.

“Delaying the July 1 effective date of the rule is the most responsible course of action to take, given the uncertainty of where the court will come down,” said the letter, signed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member of the Senate subcommittee; Tom Latham (R-Iowa), chairman of the House subcommittee; and Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.), ranking member of the House subcommittee. They sent the letter to Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The rule, published in December 2011, requires truck drivers to take a half-hour rest break before driving more than eight hours. It also requires that drivers who use the optional 34-hour restart include two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. within the restart and that the restart can only be used once every seven days.

The letter was sent five days after American Trucking Associations and Public Citizen told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that FMCSA erred in writing the rule. ATA asked that the rest break and restart provisions be overturned, but Public Citizen asked that the 11-hour driving day be reduced to 10 hours and that the 34-hour restart be eliminated altogether.

Before the March 15 argument, ATA asked FMCSA to delay the rule’s enforcement until three months after the court’s decision, saying that trucking industry and law enforcement preparations for the new rule would be wasted if the court alters or overturns it. FMCSA rejected that request in February.