THE WASHINGTON-BASED NATIONAL Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) has filed comments with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Washington, urging the administration to keep the current hours-of-service requirements for commercial drivers. The rules, which took effect in January 2004, apply to interstate drivers of property-carrying vehicles.
Under the rules, drivers can be on duty for 14 consecutive hours, with a maximum of 11 hours of driving during the shift. The regulations also mandate a 10-hour off-duty period precede each shift. Truckers cannot drive after being on duty for 60 hours in seven consecutive days, or for 70 hours in eight consecutive days. The calculations for the timeframes start over after drivers are off duty for 34 straight hours.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia voided the rules, declaring last July that FMCSA had failed to evaluate the regulations' effects on driver health before issuing them. However, Congress passed a law keeping the rules in effect until a final rule that addresses the concerns of the court is issued, or until Sept. 30, 2005, whichever comes first. In January, FMCSA sought to meet the court's concerns by reproposing the rules and inviting the pubic to comment on what changes, if any, are needed.
In NSWMA's comments, Bruce Parker, the organization's president and CEO, says changing the rules would “add uncertainty about how to stay in compliance with hours-of-service requirements.” To view his comments, visit www.nswma.org.
The comment period ended in March, and a final rule could be issued anytime.