D.C. Circuit approves motion to delay hours of service appeal

February 23, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has granted the FMCSA’s motion to pause an appeal that challenges the agency’s recent final rule on hours of service.

Citing a change in administrations, the FMCSA last week asked the D.C. Circuit to hold the appeal in abeyance for 60 days so that the agency could familiarize itself with the case. The petitioners – which include the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, and Parents Against Tired Truckers – did not oppose the motion.

The court’s approval means that FMCSA has until April 20 to file a status report.

The case surrounds the FMCSA hours-of-service final rule that went into effect on Sept. 29. With the goal of providing drivers more flexibility within the hours-of-service rules, the agency made changes to short-haul limits, the adverse driving provision, and the 30-minute break provision, and it added a split-sleeper option.

FMCSA’s move toward the HOS rule changes lasted more than two years. The agency issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in August 2018. FMCSA conducted several listening sessions and received more than 8,000 comments from the public before releasing the final rule.

In the petitioners’ statement filed on Oct. 23, the Teamsters and the safety groups challenged if the FMCSA had the authority to issue the final rule and whether or not the regulation is “arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise contrary to law.”

“Under the guise of increased flexibility, the changes will further exacerbate the already well-known threat of fatigue among commercial motor vehicle drivers by significantly weakening current hours-of-service rules,” the groups said in a news release.

OOIDA has been supportive of the rule changes, saying that the modifications provide truckers more opportunities to rest when they are tired and improve highway safety overall.

The Association is serving as an intervenor in the case. LL

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Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.