February 27, 2012 8:00 AM, EST

Public Citizen, Others File Lawsuit Challenging Revised HOS Rule

Groups Seek Rollback to 10-Hour Daily Limit

Highway safety advocates filed a lawsuit Friday challenging the hours-of-service rule published in December, saying it does not go far enough in addressing driver fatigue.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Public Citizen and the Truck Safety Coalition — along two truck drivers — take issue with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s decision to keep 11 hours in the driving day and continue to allow the 34-hour restart to reset the weekly driving clock, the groups said in a statement.

FMCSA “had no data to support” expanding truck driving time to 11 hours in 2004, from the previous 10 hours, the groups said.

In the revised rule, issued in December, FMCSA “decided to stand by that mistake even though it comes at the cost of numerous additional fatigue-related crashes.”

In asking the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the rule, the groups’ action follows American Trucking Associations, which filed a suit Feb. 14 in the same court.

ATA objected to the restrictions FMCSA placed on the 34-hour restart provision, including the requirement that the restart period include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and that it be used only once a week, ATA Chairman Dan England told Transport Topics.

The trucking group also opposed the requirement that drivers take a 30-minute break before driving more than eight hours.

The safety groups, along with the Teamsters union, brought a lawsuit against FMCSA’s previous hours rule in 2009. The December rule came about as part of a settlement in which FMCSA agreed to revise the rule while the safety groups and the Teamsters halted their legal action.

That lawsuit was dismissed this month in light of the new rule’s release.