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Court upholds most of HOS, vacates required breaks for short haulers

Friday, August 02, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Ford Boswell
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As expected the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has issued its long-awaited ruling on American Trucking Associations’ challenge to the most recent revisions in the hours-of-service rules, striking down a provision requiring short-haul drivers to take 30-minute off-duty break, but leaving the bulk of the rule unchanged.

"While we are disappointed the Court chose to give unlimited deference to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s agenda-driving rulemaking, the striking down of the short-haul break provision is an important victory,” said Dave Osiecki, ATA senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs.

While the 30-minute break requirement for short-haul drivers was vacated, the Court upheld the new limitations on the use of the restart and the requirement that the 30-minute driving break be free of all on-duty activity. The Court acknowledged that FMCSA’s justification for the rule had serious flaws, but declined to second guess the agency’s methodologies and interpretations of the evidence.

Meanwhile, the Court found no merit in the challenge of the coalition of interest groups led by Public Citizen that have repeatedly fought to make a working regulation more restrictive, correctly concluding it "would have been unreasonable and unfounded on the record” to reduce the driving day from 11 to 10 hours. The Court also summarily rejected the groups’ call to eliminate the restart altogether.

"The court recognized on numerous occasions the shortcomings of the agency’s deliberations, so despite upholding most of the rule, we hope this opinion will serve as a warning to FMCSA not to rely on similarly unsubstantiated rulemakings in the future,” Osiecki said. "One thing this rulemaking makes clear is that fatigue is a small problem when viewed through a crash causation lens. ATA hopes FMCSA will work with the trucking industry to address more pressing safety and driver behavior issues, including those than can be directly affected through proven traffic enforcement activities aimed at unsafe operating behaviors.”

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