August 23, 2007: Truck drivers will return to the 10-hour maximum driving time on Sept. 14, unless the trucking employers are successful in getting the court to stay its July 24 ruling.
As of late August, drivers still don’t know what the regulations will be after Sept. 14. Neither do the carriers.
In a victory for truck drivers and highway safety, the court threw out the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) revised rules that allow 11 hours driving time, and a 34-hour restart. All other aspects of the revised hours of service regulations, including the 14-hour maximum on-duty time, will remain unchanged.
The American Trucking Associations, representing UPS, YRC, FedEx and numerous other trucking operators, is lobbying the FMCSA to ask the court for a stay. Their real goal is to get a long delay, and then have the FMCSA go back to the court and again attempt to impose the 11-hour driving rule.
It may not be likely that the court will grant a long delay. This is the second time that the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington has unanimously struck down these two regulations. The first time, in 2004, the employers got Congress to pass a law imposing the revised hours of service regs on an interim basis. With the leadership change in Congress, and with the second defeat in court, this avenue for delay is very unlikely. So, even if the FMCSA goes to court for a stay, they may get either a short delay or no delay at all in the Sept. 14 implementation date.
Unfortunately, some companies, especially Roadway, realigned their operations on the shaky foundation of an 11-hour rule that was illegitimately established and under legal review. They may soon be turning up the truck speeds or making other adjustments for some of their runs.