Drivers Can Influence New Regulations...But the FMCSA Wants to Ignore Drivers' Health

Teamster drivers have a chance right now to influence the future of Hours of Service regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was forced back to the drawing board last July after Public Citizen won a federal Appeals Court decision vacating the regulations. In a victory for drivers’ safety and health, the court ruled the FMCSA had “failed to consider the impact of the rules on the health of the drivers.” Congress subsequently passed a law mandating that the 2003 regulations remain in effect until a new final rule replaces it, or until September 30, 2005.

In January, the FMCSA published the exact same proposed rule, with a comment period that ends March 10, 2005. The employers and their associations are of course putting in comments and padding the record.
Teamsters need to get our concerns in the public record. Let the FMCSA know the issues with a) the 34-hour re-start rule; b) fatigue with the 11-hour drive; c) split-sleep in sleepers; and d) dispatch calls permitted after 8 hours with the 10 hours off; and any other problems with the proposal.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will seek to have the current hours of service rules written into a law by gutting the statute that requires them to consider the “health of the drivers” when crafting the rules.
FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg told the executive committee of the American Trucking Associations on Feb. 8 that the agency had sent this proposal to Congress for consideration.

She said the plan was to make permanent the current hours of service rules, which the federal appeals court ruled illegal last July; that ruling was a victory by Public Citizen for drivers and safety.  The court ruled that the FMCSA wrote the rules without a sufficient basis, and without proper regard to drivers’ health.
Congress later passed a law to keep the hours of service rules in effect until Sept. 30, 2005, to allow time for new rules to be adopted.

The court unanimously found that the FMCSA didn’t do its job properly. The Bush administration now wants to gut the federal law and relieve the agency of its duty to consider drivers’ health. This attempt to subvert the health and safety of truck drivers and the safety of the motoring public needs to be exposed and defeated.

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