Breaking News: Safety groups, Teamsters seek delay in HOS final rule

Four safety groups and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters filed a joint petition Tuesday with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to delay the hours-of-service (HOS) final rule scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 29.

The Teamsters, along with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS), the Truck Safety Coalition, Parents Against Tired Truckers, and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (known as CRASH) assert in their formal petition for reconsideration that the four rule changes, issued last month, will exacerbate driver fatigue.

“Each one of them has some real troubling provisions and we think they are all equally very concerning,” Peter Kurdock, general counsel for AHAS, told FreightWaves. “That’s why we’re asking them to stay the effective date of the rule until they’ve had an opportunity to fully review the issues that we’ve raised in our petition.” Kurdock declined to discuss the details of the petition until it was posted by FMCSA.

The deadline for reconsideration petitions is Wednesday. The FMCSA has no set amount of time to review the petition, Kurdock noted, “but we’re confident they will do so in a prompt manner.”

While much of the trucking industry — from large fleets to small-business owner-operators — has generally welcomed the changes as increasing flexibility for drivers to manage their workday, safety advocates and labor unions say work-rule changes have contributed to driver stress and fatigue, leading to more deaths caused by crashes involving large trucks.

“In an effort to increase so-called ‘flexibility’ for trucking companies, the FMCSA is abandoning safety and allowing drivers to push themselves to the limit even further,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said in responding to the new rules.

“Extending the workday to 14 hours for CDL-qualified short haul drivers will result in an increase in occupational injuries and driver fatigue,” added Lamont Byrd, director of the Teamsters’ Safety and Health Department. “We are also concerned with the revised rest break provision. This revised rule could allow a driver to spend hours performing physically demanding work and then drive up to eight hours without having to take a break.”

Democrats in Congress are also seeking a delay in the HOS final rule as a provision in the House version of the reauthorization of the FAST Act surface transportation bill. However, the provision, if passed by the House, is not likely to be included in the Republican-led Senate’s version of the bill.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.