Court upholds all of hours rule for long-haul drivers

| August 02, 2013

hours-of-service-truck-stopThe entirety of the current hours of service rule was upheld in federal court Aug. 2 for long-haul drivers. The only portion of the rule vacated by the court was the required 30-minute break for short-haul drivers.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected all of the other American Trucking Associations’ arguments against the rule. ATA’s Dave Osiecki said the group is “disappointed the court chose to give unlimited deference to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s agenda-driving rulemaking.”

He did, however, say that the court’s ruling to strike down the break requirement for short haulers “is an important victory.” Short haulers are defined as those who drive within a 150-mile radius of the base from which they are dispatched.

FMCSA in a statement said it is “pleased with the court’s decision.”

“The ruling recognizes the sensible data-driven approach that was taken in crafting this important regulation to increase safety and reduce driver fatigue – a leading factor in truck crashes,” the statement said. “The ruling also provides added certainty for all affected, moving forward.”

The current hours rule became largely effective July 1 and, along with the mandatory 30-minute break after eight on-duty hours, it limits the use of a 34-hour workweek restart to just once in 168 hours and requires that the restart include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown, writing for the three-judge panel, said the court hopes the ruling will “[bring] an end to much of the permanent warfare surrounding” the rules. “Though FMCSA won the day not on the strengths of its rulemaking prowess, but through an artless war of attrition, the controversies of this round are ended,” she wrote.

“ATA takes issue with the study’s methodology and the conclusions the FMCSA draws from it,” Brown wrote, in regard to FMCSA’s stipulating when these two breaks occur.  “But we must unquestionably defer to an agency’s expertise in weighing and evaluating the merits of scientific studies.”

Also grouped into the case was a lawsuit from Public Citizen, which argued that the current hours rule was not restrictive enough. The court rejected the group’s entire argument.

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