ATA asks court to review hours rule
Group supports FMCSA’s EOBR efforts to enforce current regs
The American Trucking Associations on Feb. 14 filed a petition with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asking the court to review the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours-of-service final rule.
“We regret that FMCSA and the Obama administration have put ATA and its member companies in a position to take this legal action,” said Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “The law is clear about what steps FMCSA must undertake to change the rules, and we cannot allow this rulemaking, which was fueled by changed assumptions and analyses that do not meet the required legal standards, to remain unchallenged.”
While the final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit, it reduces by 12 hours the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week, limiting a driver’s workweek to 70 hours. FMCSA says it will continue to conduct data analysis and research to further examine any risks associated with the 11 hours of driving time.
In addition, truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they need rest during the eight-hour window.
The rule also requires truck drivers who maximize their weekly work hours to take at least two nights’ rest when their 24-hour body clock demands sleep the most – from 1 to 5 a.m. This rest requirement is part of the rule’s 34-hour restart provision that allows drivers to restart the clock on their workweek by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. The final rule allows drivers to use the restart provision only once during a seven-day period.
“FMCSA’s own analyses show that even when they overstate the safety benefits of these changes, the costs created by their rule still outweigh those benefits,” Graves said. “We need this issue to be resolved in a credible manner, taking into account the undisputed crash reduction since 2004, so we can focus limited government and industry resources on safety initiatives that will have a far greater impact on highway safety.”
ATA said it will support FMCSA’s work toward mandating electronic onboard recorders to ensure greater compliance with current HOS rules and to facilitate better enforcement.
“Improving highway and truck safety is about understanding the behaviors and events that precipitate crashes, and about implementing programs and countermeasures that truly address those causes,” said Dan England, ATA chairman and chairman of Salt Lake City-based C.R. England Inc. “We trust FMCSA will be a partner with ATA in implementing countermeasures aimed at the biggest causes of crashes.”
Restart study part of transportation legislation
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Feb. 3 approved the latest surface transportation bill, H.R. 7, which if eventually passed would represent the first reauthorization since 2005’s SAFETEA-LU act. After debate and consideration of more than 90 amendments, the 5-year $260 billion bill was passed 29-24 and moved to the House floor. The Senate is considering similar legislation covering two years and $109 billion, and the two versions would have to be negotiated before becoming law.
Surviving the House committee bill was further tinkering with the 34-hour restart rule. If the provision makes it through to final legislation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration would have to conduct a field study of the restart rule by March 31, 2013. Depending on if the study supports the rule, FMCSA may have to revisit the rulemaking. The agency’s rewrite of hours of service is scheduled to take effect in July 2013.
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