FMCSA supports ATA motion to stay HOS decision

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The American Trucking Associations said Friday, Sept. 21, that it welcomes the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration memorandum that asks the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to delay implementing its ruling on regulations that govern the working hours of commercial drivers.

The FMCSA memorandum filed Friday, Sept. 21, strongly supports ATA’s request that the Court’s vacating of the 11- and 34-hour provisions of the hours-of-service rules be stayed pending their reconsideration by the agency.

“We are pleased that the agency has supported our motion and our view that the court ruled only on the procedures that FMCSA used in adoption of the hours-of-service regulations, and not on the regulations themselves,” said Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “It is also important to note that the FMCSA states that ‘available data show that continuing the status quo will not diminish safety.’ ”

FMCSA said a stay was needed to “prevent substantial disruption of trucking operations,” and cited timing concerns and significant transition costs to the industry related to a rule change. Those costs could “have to be incurred again,” FMCSA said. The agency also predicted disruptions and confusion in hours-of-service enforcement if the rules were changed.

Moreover, FMCSA expressly stated that it “agrees with ATA that maintaining the status quo will not harm public safety or driver health.” In support of that statement, improving safety statistics were cited, including a declining trend in fatigue-related accidents.

The agency noted that the Court had invalidated the 11- and 34-hour provision “on procedural grounds only” and that the “Court’s decision did not foreclose issuance of a new rule that contains the 11-hour and 34-hour provisions, assuming the agency provides the requisite notice and comment and adequately explains its reasoning.”

FMCSA suggested that the Court grant a 12-month stay during which it would conduct a new rulemaking to consider new data and address the procedural shortcomings identified by the Court.

ATA said it expected advocacy group Public Citizen, which led the challenge to the hours-of-service rule, to file a memorandum opposing the stay later Friday, Sept. 21.