ATA to Challenge Court's Revision to Driver Work Rules

The American Trucking Associations today said it will seek a stay from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to keep the current rules governing truck drivers' work and rest periods in place until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides the court with explanations for two of the rules provisions.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today remanded the Hours of Service (HOS) rules to FMCSA, ruling that the agency must provide better explanations of its justifications for adopting the 11-hour drive time and 34-hour restart provisions of the rule. The rest of the rules remain in place, and FMCSA and other parties have 45 days to petition for reconsideration.

Current driver rules will remain in effect for approximately 52 days, until the court order becomes effective. Before then, ATA plans to file a motion with the Court asking it to stay the effective date of its decision while FMCSA is reconsidering the rule. ATA will provide support to FMCSA for re-adoption of the 11-hour daily drive time and 34-hour restart.

From the trucking industry's standpoint, the good news in the decision is that the flaws that the Court found were procedural in nature and can be corrected by the agency.

"ATA believes the existing rules have proven to be a significant improvement over the old rules in terms of reducing driver fatigue and related incidents," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. "Motor carrier experience and FMCSA data dramatically illustrate this. ATA plans to provide additional real-world documentation of the effectiveness of the current rules."

The current rules limit driving time to 11 hours and mandate a 10-hour rest time. ATA supports the current regulation, which promotes a regular work-rest cycle for truck drivers and a schedule that is closer to a 24-hour circadian rhythm. The 11th hour of driving time safely provides flexibility for trucking operations without increasing driver fatigue. The 34- hour restart gives drivers much greater flexibility to manage their time, relieving stress and allowing more time at home.

ATA also continues to believe that the rules should provide greater flexibility for both solo and team drivers who utilize sleeper berths. ATA is collecting data that show the agency that greater flexibility to select sleep times and duration based on individual need maximizes driver sleep opportunities and ensures better alertness and safety on the nation's highways.

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