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U.S. appeals court voids FMCSA’s new truck ?hours of service? rules

U.S. appeals court voids FMCSAÆs new truck æhours of serviceÆ rules

   The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has voided new truck driver 'hours of service' rules announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and remanded them back to the FMCSA for revision consistent with the court's opinion.

   The new hours of service rules had been challenged by a group called 'Public Citizen.' The appeals court agreed with the petitioner that the rules were 'arbitrary' and capricious' because the FMCSA had 'failed to consider the impact of the rules on the health of drivers.'

   The old regulations had prohibited truckers from driving more than 10 hours without taking eight hours off during the day. The new rule increased the maximum permissible driving time from 10 to 11 hours. The appeals court said the FMCSA's justifications for the new rule were of 'questionable rationality' and raised 'very grave concerns.'

   The petition from 'Public Citizen' also touched upon sleeper-berth exceptions, electronic on-board recorders, and the 34-hour restart period. The court did not rule on those issues, but urged that FMCSA reconsider how it had regulated them.

   Annette M. Sandberg, administrator of the FMCSA, said in a statement that the U.S. Justice Department has 45 days to review the appeals court's decision 'and decide whether to seek other legal remedies.' During that period of time, 'the current hours of service rule, announced in April, 2003, remains in effect,' Sandberg said.