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Issue #584 | Breakbulk Quarterly

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2014 Media Kit
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Teamsters respond to court ruling on Hours-of-Service

By: | at 07:00 PM | Channel(s): Intermodal  

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said he is disappointed that the court declined to end a dangerous rule that lets truckers drive longer hours.

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit twice struck down the Bush administration’s rule extending truck drivers’ hours-of-service from 10 hours to 11 hours.

But in brazen defiance of the court and in subservience to the trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) temporarily reinstated the rule in December.

The Teamsters—along with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Public Citizen—asked the court to enforce its order to strike the rule. The court on Wednesday declined.

“We will continue to fight this dangerous rule, though the court refused to intervene this time,” Hoffa said. “This was a procedural ruling that does nothing to support the Bush administration’s justification for letting tired truck drivers spend even more time behind the wheel.”

“This hours-of-service rule is as lawless and as dangerous as opening the border to unsafe Mexican trucks, but the Bush administration thinks it’s above the law,” Hoffa said.

The percentage of fatal crashes that result from driver fatigue rose 20 percent in 2005 from 2004—the first year in which the longer hours of driving were allowed.

Separately, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued an order on Jan. 23 stating it would consider the law cutting off funds for the cross-border trucking program. The law was part of the omnibus appropriations bill signed into law by President Bush in December.

The 9th Circuit Court will hear the Teamsters arguments on their case to stop the cross-border truck program on Feb. 12.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) first promulgated the hours-of-service rule in 2003, increasing the number of hours truckers can drive. The Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit struck down the rule in 2004, but Congress reinstated it as part of the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2004.

FMCSA issued a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in January 2005, proposing a rule that was little changed from the 2003 rule that had been struck down.

On July 24, the US District Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit for the second time threw out the rule that increased driving time to 11 hours from 10 hours and allowed drivers to go back to work after being off duty for only 34 hours.

In the 39-page opinion, Judge Merrick Garland called the rule “arbitrary and capricious.”

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters was a party in the case, joining Public Citizen and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association.

The deadline for the court’s July decision to go into effect was Sept. 14. But legal challenges pushed that deadline back. FMCSA issued the interim final rule on Dec. 11. (PRNewswire-USNewswire)