ATA makes opposition to HOS challenge official

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations (ATA) began its dismissal of a challenge to current hours of service (HOS) regulations by trying to clear up any perceived myths, but yesterday the group filed an official motion.

The ATA filed a motion to intervene in the third legal challenge by the Teamsters and three other lobby groups to the HOS rules, which were first put in place in 2004.

Having participated in the administrative process and the prior court cases, ATA seeks the right to intervene to protect the interests of its motor carrier members. Based on the opposition groups’ recently rejected petitions for reconsideration filed with the FMCSA, 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.

Twice before, lawsuits against FMCSA over the same HOS regulations failed to invalidate the science and safety of the regulations.

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

FMCSA said that “The 11-hour driving rule and 34-hour restart have now been in effect since January 2004. During this five-year period – representing billions of commercial motor vehicle driver hours and hundreds of billions of miles traveled – the significant increase in truck crashes and fatalities that one would have anticipated, based on Petitioners’ criticism, has simply failed to occur. Indeed, the overall large truck fatality rate is at its lowest level since records have been kept.”

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 workday 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 8 of those hours in the sleeper berth if it is used while on the road. Within the shorter workday, 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, according to ATA. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 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.

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