Thirty-seven organizations have asked the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for an hours-of-service hearing before the comment period on the HOS proposal ends Feb. 28.
Trucking, manufacturing, distribution and agriculture groups made the Jan. 19 request in a letter to committee Chairman Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) and other committee leaders. As of Jan. 25, hearing had not yet been scheduled, according to a committee spokesman.
A hearing would allow committee members to question the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the business community about the matter, the letter said. Safety has improved under the current rule, the organizations acknowledged. But the plan outlined in the HOS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would result in carriers having to add drivers and would be complex for law enforcement to use, the groups said in the letter.
The agency’s Dec. 29 NPRM said the consent agreement the FMCSA entered into October 2009 requires publication of a final rule by July 26.
On previous occasions, the agency had estimated the economic cost of similar HOS changes at $2.2 billion, inclusive of safety benefits, the organizations wrote.
Using new methodology to estimate expenses and benefits of the proposed rule, the FMCSA determined it would decrease costs $1.5 billion annually and increase benefits by annually $1.1 billion, the letter said.
Trucking organizations signing the letter included the American Trucking Associations, National Private Truck Council, National Tank Truck Carriers, the Waterfront Coalition and a few carriers. The National Retail Federation, National Grocers Association and Petroleum Marketers Association of America also signed.
The FMCSA agreed to revisit the current rule after safety and union groups sued in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The court had previously struck down the agency’s 2003 and 2005 versions of HOS.
The 2009 agreement stipulates if the FMCSA’s new HOS rule is “substantially different” from the 2008 rule, this may eliminate the need for judicial review of the current regulation.
Affected tractors are equipped with an automated Eaton UltraShift Plus or Eaton Advantage Transmission with right hand stalk shifter. In the affected trucks, the display on the instrument panel can indicate “N” when the shifter is set into “D” or “R,” causing the truck not to move.