Hours rule under fire in federal court

Updated Aug 1, 2012

Dsc 0014Trucking and safety groups filed arguments in federal court this month to overturn the current hours-of-service rule, but for different reasons.

The American Trucking Associations’ July 24 brief stated the Dec. 27 rule further restricted truckers’ ability to work and is an undue burden on drivers while yielding only minimal safety benefits. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Truckload Carriers Association and National Industrial Transportation League filed as intrevenors in support of the ATA.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit consolidated the association’s case with the lawsuit filed over hours-of-service by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Public Citizen and Truck Safety Coalition.

The court appointed a three-judge panel for the case, but a date for oral arguments has not been set. All briefs are due by Nov. 21.

The association asked the court to order the agency to vacate components of the restart provision. It wants removed the prohibition against using the restart provision more than once a week and the stipulation that restarts include two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Also, the ATA wants those whose driving is limited to an 150-air mile radius not be subject to the rest break requirement.

It also argued against barring driving if more than eight hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty break of at least 30 minutes. It asserted that cost-benefit analysis conducted by FMCSA was a “sham,” yet still used to justify the restart restrictions and the off-duty break requirement.

The safety organizations want the court to order the FMCSA to vacate both the increase in the daily driving limit from 10 to 11 hours and permitting off-duty period of 34 hours to restart the weekly on-duty limits. The agency has not provided proof that these provisions provide sufficient safety, the groups stated.

The compliance deadline for the disputed provisions is next July, although some HOS provisions became effective last February.