ATA can intervene in HOS challenge, court rules

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has granted the American Trucking Associations’ request to intervene in the latest challenge to the hours-of-service rules, according to an ATA statement released Tuesday, April 11. Also granted intervention in support of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was United Parcel Service, NASSTRAC and the Health and Personal Care Logistics Conference.

The interveners are expected to file a joint brief in support of the challenged aspects of the HOS rules, focusing on how they advance public safety while meeting the operational needs of the trucking industry. A briefing schedule has not been set, and final resolution of the case isn’t expected until at least spring 2007.

A coalition of highway safety advocates – Public Citizen, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety – and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in late February challenged in court the latest version of the HOS regulations. FMCSA issued the rules in August 2005, and they took effect on Oct. 1. The Teamsters, the Truckload Carriers Association and the state trucking associations for California and Ohio filed documents to intervene in support of the lawsuit filed in January by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

Public Citizen is expected to challenge the new rules’ 11-hour daily driving time limit, the 34-hour restart and the agency’s decision not to immediately mandate electronic onboard recorders. “That FMCSA chose to expand driving hours is astounding given its statutory mandate to make safety its highest priority and Congress’ specific directive to the agency to reduce fatigue-related incidents,” says Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “We fully expect the court to find once again that this rule violates the agency’s clear assignment to put safety first.”