ATA Challenges HOS Rule in Court

The American Trucking Associations says it’s going to court to overturn the new hours of service rule announced late last year.

The ATA has filed a petition with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asking the court to review the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s recently published final rule affecting the 34-hour restart provision and daily rest time.

“We regret that FMCSA and the Obama administration have put ATA and its member companies in a position to take this legal action,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said in a press release, adding that the rules currently in place “have contributed to unprecedented improvement in highway safety” and there is no scientific justification to change them.

“The law is clear about what steps FMCSA must undertake to change the rules and we cannot allow this rulemaking, which was fueled by changed assumptions and analyses that do not meet the required legal standards, to remain unchallenged.”

Although the current 11-hour daily driving limit was retained, FMCSA is limiting the 34-hour restart to once per week (every 168 hours) and will require anyone using the provision to include within it two night periods between 1:00 a.m.- 5:00 a.m. of rest. Truck drivers also will not be allowed to drive after having been on-duty for eight consecutive hours without first taking at least an eight-hour off-duty break.

Compliance with these rules will take effect by July 2013.

More immediately, a handful of changes are scheduled to take effect on Feb. 27 of this year, including fines for egregious violations ($2700 for drivers and $11,000 for carriers, for each offence) and new definitions of what constitutes off-duty periods versus sleep berth periods. (click here for details).

Graves reiterated that FMCSA’s own analysis shows the costs created by their rule still outweigh any perceived benefits. “We need this issue to be resolved in a credible manner, taking into account the undisputed crash reduction since 2004, so we can focus limited government and industry resources on safety initiatives that will have a far greater impact on highway safety.”

For example, says ATA, “traveling too fast for conditions,” is a “far greater highway safety concern than fatigue,” according to FMCSA’s own data.

In the meantime, ATA will continue to support FMCSA’s move toward mandated electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) to ensure greater compliance with the current, HOS rules, said Graves.

The association is also following the lead of the Ontario Trucking Association in calling for mandatory speed limiters in the U.S. (Ontario and Quebec are the only jurisdictions in North America to require speed limiters on all trucks).

© 2011, Canadian Trucking Alliance