The same day the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that it was extending the comment period for the proposal and scheduling "stakeholder" roundtables, FMCSA and The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration put out a press release attacking the provision in the Senate transportation funding bill that would prevent the DOT from continuing the rulemaking process on the hours of service proposal -- and the American Trucking Associations, although not by name, for supporting it.
"This provision would be bad for America," reads the release. "It would permit unsafe practices to continue, allowing fatigued truck and bus drivers behind the wheel, and should not be enacted."
The release says the agency has received more than 50,000 comments on the proposal to date, and they continue to arrive. "We have already learned a great deal about the effect of our proposal on the safety conerns of the trucking industry, shippers, drivers and their operations," they say. "This additional knowledge and the extended comment period will help us craft a sold, final regulation that will achieve our collective goals: saving lives. This process, left alone, will lead to a balanced, effective and fair rule."
The DOT then paints trucking interests who support the bill -- the ATA is the main backer -- as being anti-safety.
"However, many trucking industry interests seem opposed to reform," the release says. "They prevailed upon their Congressional allies to place a provision in the Seante bill that would prevent the U.S. DOT from spending any funds to continue this 'or any similar rulemaking' -- in short, shutting down the regulatory process. This is not a case of the U.S. DOT rushing a proposal to completion before the end of the Clinton Administration. This is raw use of political power by specific trucking interests to stop progress."