Trucking companies are going to court to fight Obama Administration rules designed to assure that commercial truckers on the road get proper rest. The American Trucking Association filed a petition with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asking the court to review the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s recently published final rule changing the hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.
The trucking industry group maintains that the new rules are based on faulty assumptions and research and that any benefits are outweighed by the extra costs they will incur. ATA also said that rules already in place are working to reduce crashes.
FMCSA’s new hours-of-service (HOS) rule reduces the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week. Under the old rule, truck drivers could work on average up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. The new HOS rule limits a driver’s work week to 70 hours. It also mandates a 30 minute rest period within every eight hour period.
ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said his group wants to resolve the issue so that government and industry resources can be focused on “safety initiatives that will have a far greater impact on highway safety.”
ATA said it will, however, support FMCSA’s move toward mandated electronic on-board recorders to ensure greater compliance with the current HOS rules. The group also supports a new government requirement for large trucks to be electronically speed limited; a return to a national maximum speed limit of 65 mph for all vehicles; and greater deployment of automated speed and traffic enforcement technologies.
The new rules fell short of what some safety advocates wanted. Advocates had opposed letting truckers stay on the road for 11 hours per day but the FMSCA retained the 11-hour daily driving limit.
Trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by three or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.