DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of November 7, 2011
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance
The Hours-of-Service debate has dominated the industry for the last few years. Where do the regulations stand and what is coming next?
Hours-of-Service; everyone in the industry has an opinion on it. The regulations governing the hours during which a driver can operate a CMV have been the focus of an intense debate that has been waged for the better part of the last ten years.
2011 has seen an intense burst of activity regarding a revised set of rules. Progress, however, has been halting and frustration on the matter — already high — has only grown. In this edition of Fast-Fax we are going to take a look at where the regulations are, where they are going and when we are likely to see meaningful progress.
The Current Regulations
Long-time readers may remember that the most recent rules were enacted in 2005. From the moment of their publication, the 2005 regulations caused a storm of controversy. Critics charged that the rules prevented drivers from taking naps during the day to rest up, thus making trucks more dangerous under the new rules.
The 2010 Proposed Regulations
A slew of lawsuits were fired back and forth over the 2005 regulations. A number of groups, including both OOIDA and ATA as well as non-industry safety advocates, demanded that the rules be changed. FMCSA responded with several proposals.
The most recent of these was released at the end of 2010. As every other proposed rule before it had been, it was immediately condemned by opponents and disappeared into a cycle of Request for Comments and reviews.
At the same time, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was being sued by advocacy groups. It was settled by the courts that new rules would be published by July 28, 2011.
When it became apparent that that date would not be reached, FMCSA and the advocacy groups agreed to delay the publication date to October 28, 2011. That date has come and gone with no publication.
New Rules Approach
This week, however, there is word that the latest versions of the rules have been passed from FMCSA to the White House Office of Management and Budget. OMB’s role is to review the rules for problems, budgetary concerns and practicality. Once OMB has reviewed and approved the rules, the proposal can be published in the Federal Register. OMB is not a ‘rubber stamp,’ however, it can and does reject rules; sending them back to the originating agency. The OMB process can take as long as 90 days.
That is the state of regulations from the Executive perspective. In addition to this, there is also interference from the Legislature. This adds an additional level of complication. Just this week, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R) of New Hampshire, attempted to introduce legislation to block the new Hours of Service rules from FMCSA. This was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada on the grounds that the rules don’t exist yet.
When Will We See Resolution?
It may be a long time. One of the key problems is that while there are a number of opponents to FMCSA, those opponents don’t necessarily agree with one another. If FMCSA releases rules that please the Trucking Industry, they are liable to be sued by safety advocates. If they release rules that please employers they are liable to be sued by driver’s unions. FMCSA has the unenviable task of creating rules that have to please everybody. On top of that, at any point in the process, Congress can change the rules of the game by issuing new restrictions and demands on to FMCSA.
For a little perspective, remember the 2005 rules replaced rules that were enacted in 1962. During that 43 year gap there were numerous attempts to change the rules. In the meantime, we can expect the latest proposal sometime in the next 3 months.
Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 111, No. 713 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011