DOT Agrees to Hours Rule Deadline

In order to settle a lawsuit, federal transportation officials have agreed to publish a final hours-of-service rule by May 31 and meet new deadlines for issuing other final rules regarding trucking safety.

Under the Feb. 24 settlement filed in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Columbia Circuit, the U.S. Department of Transportation will publish final rules in the Federal Register by deadlines that stretch through June 2004.

Safety groups brought the lawsuit that charged the department with missing congressional deadlines for issuing final rules regarding truck safety by as much as 11 years. The petitioners succeeded in getting deadlines for what they asked for, although the agreement does not address their deadline request for implementing staffing standards at international borders.

In addition to the hours-of-service rule, the two sides have agreed that DOT will publish the following, with the rules becoming effective 60 days after publication:

  • A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for training standards for new commercial driver’s license holders by Nov. 1 and a final rule by May 31, 2004.
  • A final rule on background checks for new CDL holders, including what information prospective employers must get and what information prior employers are required to furnish by March 30, 2004.
  • A NPRM on minimum training requirements for drivers of longer-combination vehicles by Sept. 1 and a final rule by March 30, 2004.
  • A final rule regarding permits to transport hazardous materials by June 30, 2004. If the DOT decides it is necessary to publish a NPRM, it must be done by Dec. 1.

    Public Citizen, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers and Teamsters for a Democratic Union filed the lawsuit Nov. 26.

    If DOT does not meet the series of deadlines outlined in the Feb. 24 agreement, the safety groups that filed the lawsuit will be able to go to court to enforce the deadlines.

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