Bill Graves, American Trucking Associations (ATA) president and chief executive officer, asked Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters on July 31 to push for a stay of the Court of Appeals ruling on hours-of-service (HOS) regulations, stating there was “no compelling safety reason” to eliminate the two provisions the court challenged. ATA released a letter from Graves to Peters at a press conference August 1 at the National Press Club in Washington DC.
On July 24, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the 11-hour driving time provision and the 34-hour restart provision of the HOS regulations. The court's decision did not say the new rules were unsafe. It said the FMCSA did not follow procedures in approving the new rules.
“FMCSA can readily address the procedural flaws identified by the court, and we believe that's what they should do,” Graves said. Research, recent data, and drivers' accounts have shown that the HOS rules that were enacted in 2005 and ruled on July 24 are safe.
The number of deaths from large truck-involved crashes declined by 4.7 percent in 2006, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That year was the first full year for which the 2005 HOS regulations were in effect, and the decrease is the largest drop in 14 years.
“ATA asks that you and your staff work with FMCSA and Department of Justice to, first and foremost, file a timely motion with the Court requesting either a stay of the decision, or remanded (to FMCSA) without the court vacating the 11-hour driving rule and the 34-hour restart provision. There is no compelling safety reason for these two elements of the rule to be vacated,” Graves said.
The 2005 HOS regulations should be reviewed in their totality, Graves said. While they allow one additional hour of driving time, they mandate two additional hours of rest. The reality is that trucking is as safe as ever operating under these new rules, according to the ATA.
A study by the American Transportation Research Institute found that most drivers experienced less fatigue and preferred the 11 hours driving, 10 hours off, and 34-hour restart provisions.