The American Trucking Associations (ATA) 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 (FMCSA) provides the court with explanations for two of the rules provisions.
The court granted challenges to portions of the 2005 hours-of-service (HOS) rule that address the daily driving limit of 11 hours and permits an off-duty period of 34 hours to restart the weekly on-duty limits. The opinion was handed down July 24 and was a result of objections to the HOS rule by Public Citizen, an advocacy group, the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), and other groups that supported the challenge.
"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 Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. "Motor carrier experience and FMCSA data dramatically illustrate this. ATA plans to provide additional real-world documentation of the effectiveness of the current rules."
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.
ATA said that 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.
The court said in its opinion that FMCSA failed to "give interested parties and opportunity to comment on the methodology of a crash-risk model the agency used to justify an increase in the maximum number of daily and weekly hours that truck drivers may drive and work."
The court also found that FMCSA "failed to provide an explanation for critical elements of that methodology."
At the same time, the court denied the petition from OOIDA that FMCSA failed to deal with loading and unloading issues as required by Congress. It also denied OOIDA's petition that the 14-hour daily on-duty limit is arbitrary and capricious because FMCSA failed to consider its negative effects on driver health and safety. A third OOIDA petition related to modifications of the sleeper-berth exceptions also was denied.
The court decision follows a long litigation process begun soon after FMCSA issued the HOS final rule in April 2003.