ATA petitions FMCSA to retain HOS regulations

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The American Trucking Associations asked federal regulators Friday, Aug. 31, to retain the two hours-of-service provisions that a federal appeals court voided on July 24 and to establish an expedited rulemaking for addressing the issues identified by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

ATA’s petition asks the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to keep the 11-hour daily driving limit and 34-hour weekly restart elements of the hours rule. The petition cites the potential for “widespread disruption in the industry and the supply chain.”

The petition asks the agency to publish an interim final rule by Sept. 14, re-adopting the 11-hour driving limit and 34-hour restart. Then, ATA seeks a proposed rule that addresses the issues identified by the court within 60 days following issuance of the interim final rule. Finally, the petition asks for publication of a final rule within 180 days of the notice of proposed rulemaking’s publication.

The current hours rule was enacted by FMCSA in 2005 after months of legal battles with advocacy groups such as Public Citizen.

The recent court ruling made no provision for what regulations would survive once the two provisions were vacated, apparently leaving it up to the agency to implement whatever regulations the agency thinks would be appropriate. In effect, ATA is asking that FMCSA temporarily reimpose the 11-hour driving limit and 34-hour restart immediately upon the effective date of the court’s ruling.

ATA’s petition argues that it will be impossible for the trucking industry to adapt to immediate changes in the daily driving limit and weekly restart provisions without significant and costly impacts to carriers’ operations. ATA also argues that the inability of many states to immediately adapt to the new requirements will result in a patchwork of enforcement, which could undermine the agency’s safety efforts.

ATA stated that a recent decline in fatalities in truck-involved crashes demonstrates that continuation of these provisions will not degrade highway safety. ATA argued further that FMCSA’s acceptance of the petition will provide the industry with the stability and operational certainty that it needs while the agency responds to the court.

For a copy of the HOS letter from ATA President Bill Graves, click here. For a copy of the HOS petition, click here.