Agency tells ATA hours compliance date will not be delayed

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Updated Feb 28, 2013

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has denied the American Trucking Associations’ request to postpone the compliance date for hours-of-service rule slated to be implemented July 1. ATA’s letter, from president Bill Graves, asked for the compliance date to be pushed to three months after a ruling is made in an ongoing court case between ATA and FMCSA over the rule.

In FMCSA’s response Chief Counsel Scott Darling says the agency does not “believe [ATA] demonstrated good cause to delay the compliance date of the rule” and that “mere uncertainty over the possible outcome of the litigation” did not constitute a situation in which the industry would “suffer harm” due to confusion or time lost to training.

The rule is set to go into effect July 1, and ATA is scheduled to present oral arguments against it March 15 in front of a three-judge panel in a District of Columbia appeals court. Graves said in his letter that delaying the effective date would avoid unnecessary training.

Darling says in the letter ATA’s request is more or less a request for a stay, and that Graves’ letter did not outline sufficient criteria to be granted a stay. 

Dave Osiecki, ATA’s senior VP of policy and regulatory affairs, responded to the agency’s letters, saying ATA is disappointed about the denial of the group’s request and that carriers, shippers and enforcement agencies will “have to spend time and money on training and adapting systems to a rule whose final form will not be certain until the court issues its decisions.”

Osiecki says that because the court date is scheduled for March 15, any delay would have likely been short, and that the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the National Industrial Transportation League and the National Association of Manufacturers all would benefit from getting a full three months after the court decision to prepare for the changes. 

Here’s the bulk of Osiecki’s statement: 

FMCSA’s denial acknowledged that the relevant question should be whether there is “good cause” for delay.  But the agency didn’t address whether avoiding confusion and waste of carrier, shipper, and Federal and State enforcement (taxpayer) dollars amounted to “good cause”.  Instead, it applied an irrelevant legal standard a court would apply if a party asked the court to order the agency to forbear—a far higher standard.  ATA went to FMCSA, rather than straight to the court, because we gave the agency the benefit of the doubt that it would treat our reasonable request in good faith. Their decision to apply irrelevant standards makes it clear that FMCSA isn’t interested in giving a fair hearing to the industry’s reasonable requests.

Click here to see FMCSA’s response letter.

Click here to see CCJ‘s coverage of ATA’s letter asking for the delay.