Drivers

ATA Seeks Eight-month Delay in HOS Changes

September 07, 2007

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Citing the potential for "serious disruption to trucking operations," the American Trucking Associations has submitted a motion asking the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
for an eight-month stay of its mandate to eliminate the 11-hour daily driving limit and 34-hour restart provisions of the hours of service regulations. A July 24 court decision vacated the two HOS provisions, citing various procedural issues identified during the rulemaking process, but did not say that those rules were unsafe.
"The trucking industry and its customers could not instantaneously shift to an hours of service regime with a different daily driving limit and without the 34-hour restart. Rather, such a conversion would require months of preparation," the ATA's motion said.
Changes would require retraining drivers and operating personnel, reprinting logs and other forms, reprogramming dispatching and electronic onboard recording software, reengineering routes, addressing customers' issues, hiring new drivers and purchasing new trucks to compensate for the loss of productivity.
In addition, vacating the two provisions would eliminate the only HOS provisions that partially offset the loss of productivity imposed by truckers and shippers by other HOS changes in 2005: the increase of the mandatory off-duty period from 8 hours to 10 hours, the decrease of maximum on-duty hours from 15 to 14, and changes to sleeper berth requirements.
More importantly, trucking companies "have experienced improved safety performance under the current HOS rules," the ATA said. The ATA's filing includes affidavits and declarations from a number of trucking companies that cite significant reduction in accident rates, a reduction in fatigue-related accidents, and "no evidence of increased risks of driving in the 11th hour in the real world - which is where the true test of safety occurs."
Critics of the rules have fixated on the one additional hour of driving that was allowed and fail to note that the same version of the rules increased drivers' required daily rest period from 8 hours to 10 hours and reduced the maximum on-duty period from 15 hours per day to 14 consecutive hours per day. Under the rules truck drivers could be assured of more rest time each day than under the previous rules.
The ATA argued that the court should grant the stay because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is likely to be able to justify its adoption of the 11 and 34 hour provisions in the new rulemaking undertaken to address the court's concerns, and because law enforcement agencies will not be able to adapt immediately to the new requirements.
The ATA's motion and addenda are available at www.truckline.com.

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