WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia here has overturned federal hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers that went into effect in January, saying they failed to sufficiently consider drivers' health.
The rules, issued by the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, reduced permissible service hours from 15 continuous hours on duty to 14 hours on duty, but expanded consecutive hours of driving time allowed from 10 to 11. In addition, the 14 hours on-duty shift includes break time and idle time not considered on the clock previously.
Some food distributors complained that these rules could result in higher costs for shipping, driver salary and workers' compensation.
Under the court's decision, issued July 16, the DOT has 45 days to review the decision and decide whether to seek other legal remedies. During that review period, the current hours of service rules remain in effect.
"This is a sweeping victory for the safety of not only truck drivers but for the motoring public as well," said Joan Claybrook, president, Public Citizen, which filed the legal challenge along with Parents Against Tired Truckers and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways.
In its decision, the court said the DOT rule was "arbitrary and capricious because the agency neglected to consider a statutorily mandated factor -- the impact of the rule on the health of drivers." The court also questioned why the agency did not require truckers to use electronic on-board recorders to monitor driver compliance.