ATA fights to retain hours-of-service rules

Sept. 5, 2007
Citing the potential for “widespread disruption in the industry and the supply chain” and a decrease in safety, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) is fighting on two fronts to retain current hours-of-service (HOS) regulations.

Citing the potential for "widespread disruption in the industry and the supply chain" and a decrease in safety, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) is fighting on two fronts to retain current hours-of-service (HOS) regulations.

ATA submitted a petition August 31 asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to retain the 11-hour daily driving limit and 34-hour restart provisions of the HOS regulations pending the agency’s reconsideration of the provisions. The trucking group also plans to file a motion with the United States Court of Appeals this week seeking a stay of the court’s order vacating the two provisions of the HOS regulations. The stay would keep the 11- and 34-hour provisions in place pending further agency review.

The court’s July 24 court decision vacated the two HOS provisions, citing various procedural issues identified during rulemaking. The petition also asks the agency to establish a firm, expedited notice of proposed rulemaking process for addressing the issues identified by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

If the FMCSA does not act, ATA will file with the court for stay of its decision. Vacating of the two provisions could take formal effect as early as September 14, but the filing of ATA’s request for a stay will delay that timing at least until the court rules on ATA’s request.

"There is no compelling safety reason for these two elements of the rule to be vacated," said Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer, in a letter to Transportation Secretary Mary Peters in August. Contrary to the claims of special interest groups, the court’s decision did not state that the two elements were unsafe, merely that the FMCSA had not followed required procedures in developing those parts of the rule.

Critics of the rules have fixated on the one additional hour of driving that was allowed, and fail to note that the same version of the rules increased drivers’ required daily rest period from eight to 10 hours and reduced the maximum on-duty period from 15 to 14 hours per day. Under the rules, truck drivers could be assured of more rest time each day than under the previous rules.

The petition asked the agency to publish an interim final rule by September 14 that would readopt the 11-hour driving limit and 34-hour restart; commit to publishing a proposed rulemaking that addresses the issues identified by the court within 60 days; and publish a final rule within 180 days of the notice of publication of the proposed rule.

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