Here we go again: ATA hauls HOS back into court

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 2/14/2012

In what can hardly be considered a surprise, the hours-of-service regulations are being challenged in court, again. This time by the American Trucking Associations.

In the days that followed the unveiling of the most recent – yet relatively unchanged – version of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours-of-service regulations late this past year, the grumbling began.

Advocates for Highway Safety, Truck Safety Coalition, and Parents Against Tired Truckers were all vocal in their displeasure, chastising the agency for retaining the 11-hour of driving time.

Despite displeasure by at least some of the plaintiffs in the most recent lawsuit involving HOS, a joint motion to dismiss was filed on Jan. 23 by Public Citizen, Teamsters, Advocates for Highway Safety, Truck Safety Coalition and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

HOS’s time in the clear was short-lived.

A Feb. 14 filing by ATA with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia marks the fourth time the regulation has been subject to legal action since 2002.

The first lawsuit was brought compelling the agency to rewrite the regulations as mandated by Congress in 1995. The (now) three subsequent lawsuits have challenged the revamped regulations.

The ATA’s petition, as all petitions for review are, is vague as to why the association is challenging the most recent revision of the rule.

The petition states that ATA was a “party aggrieved” by the final rule and asks the court to throw the new regs out as arbitrary and capricious.

ATA’s press releases and comments during the most recent regulatory process urged the agency to refrain from making any changes to the regulations – hinting that the group is not happy with any changes.

The new regulations include a change to the 34-hour restart provision, limiting the ability to reset the on-duty clock to once every 7 days and mandating that two overnight rest periods be included in the restart.

The agency also mandated a 30-minute rest period for truckers. Truckers will be required to take a minimum of 30 minutes of off-duty time (which will not stop the 14-hour on-duty clock) after eight consecutive hours of driving and/or on-duty time.

The regulations technically go into effect on Feb. 27. However, truckers will not be required to comply with the rest breaks or 34-hour restart provision changes until June 30, 2013.

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