ATA Goes to Court vs Hours of Service

William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor
The Journal of Commerce
July 26, 2012

The latest truck driver hours of service rule is not only arbitrary and capricious, but unwarranted, the American Trucking Associations said in a court filing.

The trucking group filed its first shot in a court battle over the federal rule, which governs how many hours a driver can work each day and week.

The latest version of the rule, published Dec. 27, would keep some drivers off-duty longer between work weeks, cutting into the time they can drive and their earnings.

The ATA is suing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, hoping to overturn the HOS rule.

In its appeal, the association and several allied trucking and shipping groups take aim at key provisions of the rule that are scheduled to take effect in July 2013.

Most prominent are revisions the FMCSA made in its final rule to the so-called 34-hour restart provision, which allows drivers to restart their weekly on-duty cycle.

The final rule requires truckers to spend two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods off-duty before starting a new work week. That could lengthen the time drivers must wait before restarting their weekly clocks.

The ATA and its allies also attacked a new requirement that requires drivers to take a 30-minute off-duty break after working seven consecutive hours.

As it has done since the FMCSA proposed the changes, the ATA criticized the agency’s analysis of the final rule’s net benefits, calling it “a sham.”

“The agency’s cost-benefit analysis is driven by irrational assumptions and unjustifiable decisions made to inflate the (rule’s) total benefits,” the ATA said.

In particular, the association challenged the claim that 13 percent of truck crashes are caused by fatigue and the arguments the agency used to support a relationship between work, sleep and crash risk.

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