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History of Hours-Of-Service Rules

Most legislation that is passed in the Untied States is not new legislation, but is merely updating previously enacted laws. This is true with the hours-of-service rules and regulations. Tractor-trailers have served a rich part of the American economy. While there has been growing concern about the fatigue that truck drivers face on a daily basis, this is actually not a new concern. For over 100 years Congress and other agencies have been enacting, tweaking, and reforming hours-of-service laws to protect all drivers on the road.

Detailed History Regrding Service Rules and Motor Vehicles

  • 1928: Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) recommends federal regulation of motor carriers due to lack of uniform state regulations
  • 1935: Congress passes the Motor Carrier Act authorizing the ICC to regulate economic health and operational safety of motor carriers.
  • 1939: ICC orders motor carriers to limit drivers to 10 hours of driving in any 24-hour period unless the drivers are off duty for 8 consecutive hours immediately following 10 hours of driving. Drivers are limited to 60 hours on duty in any 7-day period and 70 hours in any 8-day period.
  • 1962-63: The ICC issues a 15-hour rule. Drivers cannot be on duty more than 15 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty. Oil field drivers were exempt from the 60/70 hour rule.
  • 1976: FHWA requests comments on hours-of-service rules.
  • 1978: FHWA again requests comments on hours-of-service rule, suggesting several options including 12-14 hour off-duty periods and a 12-hour on duty limit.
  • 1980: FHWA requests comments on a petition to weaken hours-of-service rules by increasing from 10 to 12 the number of driving hours permitted after 8 rest hours and from 70 to 96 the number of on-duty hours permitted in an 8-day period. Ninety-four percent of comments oppose these increases.
  • 1981: FHWA terminates 1978 rule-making, saying it would have a negative economic impact.
  • 1986: Institute petitions FHWA to require onboard computers in large trucks. FHWA denies request based on survey unrepresentative motor carriers.
  • 1987: FHWA amends 60/70 hour rule to allow drivers to be on non-driving duty after the 60th or 70th hour in a 7-or 8-day period. Institute asks FHWA to reconsider denial of 1986 petition for onboard computers.
  • 1988: FHWA permits voluntary use of onboard computers for motor carriers transporting hazardous materials.
  • 1989: institute petitions FHWA to require onboard computers for motor carriers transporting hazardous materials.
  • 1992: In an attempt to weak hours-of-service rules, FHWA proposes to allow the 60/70 hour on hazardous materials.
  • 1993: FHWA withdraws their proposal. Majority of nearly 68,000 comments which strongly opposed changes.
  • 1995: Institute and other petition FHWA for onboard computers.
  • 1996: FHWA announces a possible hours-of-service rules revisions suggesting it will relax regulations. FHWA exempts from these rules certain agriculture-related transport, groundwater drilling rigs, construction related transport, and other vehicles servicing public utilities.
  • 1997: Institute urges FHWA to strengthen hours-of-service rules, mandate onboard computer and adopt 12-14 hour mandatory rest periods.
  • 2003: DOT published new rules, which met the Congressional directive and became effective in January 2004.
  • July 2004: In response to a legal challenge by a public interest group, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned the April 2003 rules based on DOT’s oversight in performing one statutorily mandated analysis concerning driver health.
  • August 2005: DOT issued new HOS rules identical to the April 2003 rules, with one exception—a significant change in how drivers could use a truck’s sleeper berth to obtain rest.
  • July 2007: In response to another legal challenge by two public interest groups and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned the rules based on procedural errors made by DOT in the rule-making process.
  • December 2007: DOT issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) addressing the procedural issues identified by the Court and retaining the August 2005 HOS rules.
  • November 2008: DOT reissued the August 2005 HOS rules as a Final Rule.
  • March 2009: The same plaintiffs again filed suit against DOT.
  • October 2009: Prior to the confirmation of current FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, politically appointed DOT officials signed a litigation settlement agreement with the public interest groups and the Teamsters in which DOT agreed to ‘review and reconsider’ the HOS rules.
  • September 2010: The number of truck-involved traffic fatalities dropped to the lowest level in recorded history reflecting a 33 percent decrease in fatalities since the improved hours-of-service regulations first became effective in January 2004.
  • December 2010: DOT proposes changes to the hours of service rules.
  • December 2011: DOT publishes new hours of service rules.

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