Fuel Smarts

Too Much Disagreement, Too Little Time For Negotiated Rulemaking

June 14, 1999

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There is too much disagreement over truck driver hours of service for a negotiated rulemaking to work within a reasonable period of time.

That's the message from a team of consultants hired by the Federal Highway Administration to see if the HOS knot can be untied by some method other than a traditional rulemaking.
The mediation experts interviewed key stakeholders from all sides in this complex controversy, and came away believing that the time constraints and the opposition of some stakeholders make reg-neg, as the process is called, an unworkable solution.
Everyone agrees that changes are necessary to improve safety, but agreement breaks down when people see the economic implications of change, the complexity of the industry and the need to protect their self-interest.
It would be possible to take a different negotiating tack, though, the mediators said in their report to FHWA. They recommended that the agency form an advisory committee composed of key stakeholders to find consensus on the scientific understanding of driver fatigue and hours of service.
While this "scientific dialogue" would be contentious, it might at least bring stakeholders to agreement on key issues, the mediators said.
They recommended against a traditional rulemaking — unless the scientific dialogue fails.
FHWA has not yet said what it plans to do. In a recent interview, Julie Cirillo, chief of the Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety, said the agency is looking at a variety of negotiation options (See "Hours-Of-Service Update," http://www.heavytruck.com/hdt/news.html#990610.1849).

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