On January 7, 2008, NASSTRAC filed in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in support of the FMCSA Interim Rule preserving the hours of service status quo for the next 10-12 months.

The court issued a decision last July overturning two features of the current hours of service rules - the provisions permitting 11 hours of driving time per shift, and a “restart” of drivers’ duty clocks after 34 consecutive hours off duty. However, the court did not hold these provisions unlawful. Rather, it said FMCSA had failed to support the provisions adequately with timely disclosure of its reasoning and a full explanation. The court also granted a stay of its decision until December 27, 2007, as supported by NASSTRAC.

FMCSA’s Interim Rule preserving the 11th hour of driving time and the 34 hour restart provision took effect December 27, 2007 and was immediately attacked in the court by Public Citizen, other safety advocates, and the Teamsters Union. They have asked the court to require FMCSA to cut driving time to 10 hours per shift, and cap weekly driving time with no restart.

NASSTRAC, a trade association that represents the interests of shippers, along with the National Industrial Transportation League and other industry groups, oppose these changes in FMCSA’s Interim Rule because highway safety has improved under the current HOS rules, and because there will be severe disruption for carriers, drivers, law enforcement and shipper supply chains if drivers’ hours are reduced as the safety advocates propose. In fact, according to NASSTRAC’s legal counsel John Cutler, shippers and carriers could face disruption in early 2008 in switching to 10 hours driving time, only to face disruption again at the end of 2008 if FMCSA once again finds the 11 hour limit meets health and safety standards set by Congress. A decision by the court is expected by the end of January.