ATA files motion for HOS rule stay
Sep 12, 2007 11:51 AM
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has filed a motion with a US Court of Appeals for a eight-month stay in a current hours-of-service ruling that would eliminate the 11-hour daily driving limit and 34-hour restart provisions.
Earlier, ATA submitted a petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) asking the agency to retain the 11-hour daily driving limit and 34-hour restart provisions.
If the court agrees with the ATA petition, the stay would keep the 11- and 34-hour provisions in place pending further agency review, ATA said.
Citing the potential for "serious disruption to trucking operations," ATA submitted the motion September 6 to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A July 24 court decision vacated the two HOS provisions, citing various procedural issues identified during the rulemaking process, but did not say that those rules were unsafe, ATA said.
"The Trucking industry and its customers could not instantaneously shift to an hours-of-service regime with a different daily driving limit and without the 34-hour restart. Rather, such a conversion would require months of preparation," the ATA's motion said.
Changes would require retraining drivers and operating personnel, reprinting logs and other forms, reprogramming dispatching and electronic onboard recording software, reengineering routes, addressing customers' issues, hiring new drivers, and purchasing new trucks to compensate for the loss of productivity.
In addition, vacating the two provisions would eliminate the only HOS provisions that partially offset the loss of productivity imposed by truckers and shippers by other HOS changes in 2005: the increase of the mandatory off-duty period from 8 hours to 10 hours, the decrease of maximum on-duty hours from 15 to 14, and changes to sleeper berth requirements, ATA said.
ATA argued that trucking companies "have experienced improved safety performance under the current HOS rules." The ATA's filing includes affidavits and declarations from a number of trucking companies that cite significant reduction in accident rates, a reduction in fatigue-related accidents, and "no evidence of increased risks of driving in the 11th hour in the real world-which is where the true test of safety occurs."
ATA said that 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 hours to 10 hours and reduced the maximum on-duty period from 15 hours per day to 14 consecutive hours per day. Under the rules truck drivers could be assured of more rest time each day than under the previous rules.
ATA also argued that the court should grant the stay because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is likely to be able to justify its adoption of the 11- and 34-hour provisions in the new rulemaking undertaken to address the court's concerns, and because law enforcement agencies will not be able to adapt immediately to the new requirements.
The petition to FMCSA asked the agency to publish an Interim Final Rule by September 14 that would re-adopt 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.
See other coverage on HOS rules in Bulk Transporter online.
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