June 9, 2000
In a letter yesterday to U.S. Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater strongly opposed the idea of adding to the pending DOT appropriations bill a provision that would prohibit the Department's new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from acting on comments on its proposed hours-of-service rulemaking.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is preparing a Federal Register notice that would extend the comment to Oct. 30, 2000. The current comment period ends July 31, 2000.
Also yesterday, senior executives from Public Citizen, American Insurance Association, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and the Trauma Foundation all signed a letter supporting the rulemaking process and opposing the delaying provision, to Chairman Shelby and the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO sent a supporting letter to U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, ranking member of the Transportation Subcommittee on Appropriations.
"We have heard from industry representatives about the pace of the rulemaking, and I am prepared to extend the comment period for 90 days to allow interested members of the public more time for in-depth analysis of the proposal's details and to clarify matters that have arisen since the proposal was issued," Secretary Slater said.
Secretary Slater on April 25 announced a proposed rulemaking on hours-of-service that is science-based and designed to improve highway safety by ensuring that drivers of large trucks and buses have the opportunity to get adequate rest. The FMCSA is conducting eight public meetings around the country to obtain comments on the rulemaking.
The rulemaking is part of FMCSA's safety action plan which includes an overall stretch goal of reducing truck-related fatalities by 50 percent by the year 2010. In 1999, there were 5,203 truck-related fatalities.
President Clinton on Dec. 9, 1999 signed legislation creating the FMCSA, effective Jan. 1, 2000. It is a free-standing safety agency responsible for regulating the trucking industry, among other things. Heavy trucks are involved in almost 15 percent of all fatal highway crashes.
The notice of proposed rulemaking would change current hours-of-service rules that were originally established in 1935. Copies of Secretary Slater's June 8 letter can be obtained by calling 202-366-0456.
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