Overdrive staff | December 01, 2009

Until a rulemaking about the final scoring methodology takes effect, carriers with poor safety records will be rated in accordance with FMCSA’s current compliance and enforcement process.

— Jill Dunn and Todd Dills

Hours rule under review again

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has decided to conduct another hours-of-service rulemaking as part of a settlement with groups challenging the current regulations.

A federal appeals court has twice rejected the rule implemented in January 2004, and safety groups have been challenging the current regulations for allowing 11 hours of driving per shift and a 34-hour restart of cumulative on-duty limits. The Oct. 26 agreement with Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters places a hold on that litigation pending the completion of a new rulemaking.

Under the settlement, FMCSA must begin a new rulemaking process and submit a notice of proposed rulemaking to the Office of Management and Budget within nine months. The agency will have another 12 months to issue a final rule. Meanwhile, the current rule remains in effect.

“The crash rate, injury rate and fatality rate are all at historic lows,” says Clayton Boyce, spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, which supports the current rule. “The science is on the side of the current hours of service.”

— Avery Vise

Short Hauls

SITTON TRUCK LINES of Joplin, Mo., is closing, according to news reports. David L. Sitton, now deceased, and his two sons, Richard and Michael Sitton, started the irregular route common and contract carrier in 1979.

DAIMLER TRUCKS North America officials confirmed that DTNA is committed to a long-term development plan for Western Star. The company is working with dealers to find ways to enhance brand awareness and present vehicle demonstrations at truck stops and other venues.

A DRUG AND ALCOHOL strike force conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration removed 77 truck and bus drivers from the road. The Sept. 8-18 enforcement also resulted in more than 80 carriers facing penalties. The drivers can no longer operate a commercial motor vehicle and will probably face fines.

Agency pushes for sleep apnea program

A technician for Sleep Pointe in Prime Inc.'s offsite sleep lab in Springfield, Mo., prepares a patient for sleep apnea testing.

The National Transportation Safety Board wants the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to begin a program to identify commercial drivers at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea, and if treatment is required, show that it is has been conducted.

The NTSB also wants FMCSA to develop and disseminate guidance for commercial drivers, employers and physicians regarding the identification and treatment of individuals at high risk for OSA.

FMCSA is “considering a rule to tighten its standards for medical certification of commercial drivers” that could include new OSA standards, an agency spokesman says. The medical certification required to obtain a CDL includes a question about sleep disorders.

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