April 8, 1998
In an April 3 decision, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed challenges by Truckers United for Safety (TUFS) to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulatory guidance on the motor carrier hours-of-service regulations.
The FHWA published the regulatory guidance in the April 4, 1997, Federal Register. The TUFS petitioned the court for review of a portion of the guidance -- three questions and answers concerning motor carrier liability for driver hours-of-service violations. The TUFS contended that the guidance imposes strict liability on trucking companies and violates their due process rights.
The court threw out the challenges, holding that the FHWA has not had the opportunity to apply the guidance in a specific case. It did not reach a decision on whether the questions and answers impose strict liability but commented that the standard of liability in all three answers appears to be one of negligence.
The TUFS also argued that the guidance is invalid because the FHWA did not comply with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which requires agencies to provide interested parties with notice of and opportunity to comment on proposed regulations. The court rejected this argument, holding that the regulatory guidance constitutes interpretive rules not subject to the APA.
If your publication would like more information on this court decision, please call our media relations contact, Janet Kumer, at 202-366-0079.
George L. Reagle
Associate Administrator for Motor Carriers