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ID NEWS: Hours-of-service rules finalized by DOT

The Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued its first revision to hours-of-service regulations in more than 60 years. To take effect January 4, 2004, the new rules will allow drivers an additional hour of driving time while reducing by one hour the total number of on-duty hours allowed.

This new scaled-back hours rule replaces the proposals of May, 2000, which were vigorously opposed by the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), Falls Church, VA. Among the original provisions, for example, was a plan to create a new system of classifications based on types of operation. Under that provision, foodservice distributors would have faced differing requirements, depending on the daily activities of their drivers.

The original rules also included a controversial "weekend" provision mandating extended off-duty periods each week. The revamped proposal, by comparison, provides incentives for such a "weekend" but does not require them.

"The proposal issued under the Clinton Administration would have radically altered the entire trucking landscape, dramatically impacting a company's ability to remain profitable," notes David French, IFDA senior vice president of government relations. "It would have forced companies to invest millions in new equipment and personnel, yet would have provided little additional safety benefit. IFDA members spoke out strongly in opposition to the original proposal, and we are pleased that our voice has been heard."

"We appreciate that the final rule is far less onerous than the original," adds Jon Eisen, IFDA director, government relations. "We are awaiting more feedback from our members, but at this point we don't think the new rules will have a major impact. They appear to be something we can work with."

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