ATA files motion in HOS legal challenge

March 17, 2009
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has filed a motion to intervene in response to the latest challenge to the hours-of-service (HOS) rules.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has filed a motion to intervene in response to the latest challenge to the hours-of-service (HOS) rules.

ATA responded to a lawsuit filed March 9 by The Teamsters, Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and the Truck Safety Coalition challenging the HOS rule and asking the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia to review the HOS regulation. It is the third court petition by the group in the HOS challenge.

ATA said that having participated in the administrative process and the prior court cases, the association seeks the right to intervene to protect the interests of its motor carrier members.

"Based on the opponents' recently rejected petitions for reconsideration filed with the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), it’s expected that the groups will argue that scientific studies do not support the retention of the 11th hour of driving and 34-hour restart components of the HOS rules," ATA stated. "Twice before, lawsuits against FMCSA over the same HOS regulations failed to invalidate the science and safety of the regulations.

"ATA believes that the FMCSA has done an outstanding job explaining the scientific underpinnings of its decision to retain the HOS provisions. Dramatically positive real-world safety records, experienced since 2004 under the revised HOS rules, also bolster the defense of the ruling."

ATA also notes that FMCSA records indicate that since the HOS rule inception, the overall large truck fatality rate is at its lowest level since records have been kept, and that drivers have found that the 34-hour restart gives them more rest and time off, not less.

In addition, ATA pointed out that the HOS rules reduced the maximum length of the truck driver’s work day by at least one hour and increased the daily required number of hours of rest by two hours. The work day was shortened from a previous maximum of 15 hours (which could be extended by breaks) to no more than 14 consecutive hours.

Drivers are required to rest at least 10 hours between shifts, with at least eight of those hours in the sleeper berth, if it is used while on the road. Within the shorter work day, the rules allow 11 hours of driving instead of the previous 10.

Claims that drivers’ health had been ignored in drafting the regulations have also come up short. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor statistics show that the rate of occupational injuries and illnesses in the trucking industry decreased by nearly 18 percent between 2004 and 2007 under the current HOS rules, ATA said.

More information regarding HOS rules can be found online at ATA's Web site

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