WASHINGTON, D.C. - The US Court of Appeals dropped a bombshell on the trucking industry in late July when it ruled two key elements of the Hours-of-Service regulations south of the border are not just...
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The US Court of Appeals dropped a bombshell on the trucking industry in late July when it ruled two key elements of the Hours-of-Service regulations south of the border are not justified.
The Court, responding to complaints from special interest groups, found that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) did not adequately justify its inclusion of a 34-hour reset provision or an 11-hour driving day. It ordered the FMCSA to either provide further justification for the two rulings, or to scrap them altogether.
A complaint about the sleeper berth provision, filed by the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), was dismissed by the Court. OOIDA had contended that team drivers should be able to split their sleeper berth time into segments shorter than eight consecutive hours and that solo drivers should be able to count the two-hour portion of their sleeper berth exception as off-duty time.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) immediately appealed to the court to stay its decision, insisting there was “no compelling safety reason” to overturn the two provisions in question.
“ATA believes the existing rules have proven to be a significant improvement over the old rules in terms of reducing driver fatigue and related incidents,” responded ATA president, Bill Graves. “Motor carrier experience and FMCSA data dramatically illustrates this. ATA plans to provide additional real-world documentation of the effectiveness of the current rules.”
ATA argued the eleventh hour of driving time and 34-hour reset allow more flexibility for carriers and drivers without increasing driver fatigue.
The US Court of Appeal has given the FMCSA 45 days (beginning July 24) to explain how it justifies the two controversial HoS provisions. In the meantime, drivers are urged to continue complying with the existing HoS rules.
“We are analyzing the decision to understand the Court’s findings as well as determine the agency’s next steps to prevent driver fatigue, ensure safe and efficient motor carrier operations and save lives,” the FMCSA said in a release following the ruling. “This decision does not go into effect until Sept. 14, unless the Court orders otherwise.”
ATA president Graves visited Washington to further the association’s efforts to forge ahead with the current HoS regime.
“FMCSA can readily address the procedural flaws identified by the Court, and we believe that’s what they should do,” he told Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters. He asked her to help support a stay for the Court, which would allow the industry to continue operating under the current rules.
“ATA asks that you and your staff work with FMCSA and the Department of Justice to, first and foremost, file a timely motion with the Court requesting either a stay of the decision, or a remand without the Court vacating the 11-hour driving rule and the 34-hour restart provision,” Graves said.
OOIDA urged its members to continue complying with the current rules while it reviews its own options for further action.
“The court’s ruling impacts the (FMCSA), not the truckers,” OOIDA president, Jim Johnston said. “Truckers should continue operating the way they are until FMCSA issues further directives.”
As Truck News went to press, FMCSA still had not publicly stated its intent on this matter, leaving truckers who run in the US questioning whether they will soon have to comply with yet another set of new HoS rules.
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