FMCSA derails ATA’s request to delay Hours of Service changes

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has denied a request by the ATA (American Transportation Association) to delay enforcement of the pending Hours of Service changes.

ATA President, Bill Graves, wrote a letter on January 25, asking the FMCSA to delay the pending HOS changes until three months after the ATA’s lawsuit is heard and a verdict reached. The ATA last year filed a lawsuit in the Court of Appeals. The District of Columbia Circuit Court is scheduled to hear opening oral arguments on March 15, 2013. The Hours of Service changes are scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2013.

Other industry groups that also asked for a delay are the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and the Owners Operator Independent Drivers Association. The rationale for requesting a delay is that motor carriers will need to develop procedures, conduct training and modify information systems based upon the new rules. If the rules change based upon the court decision, the carriers will then be required to update the procedures, revamp training and make additional changes to their information systems.

In addition, law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local level will also be required to enforce the new law and if the court case changes the regulation they must incorporate the changes into their procedures and training programs.

The key provisions in the updated hours of service rules is allowing the use of an optional 34-hour restart, with only one per week, with time off between 1:00 am and 5:00 am for two straight days. Under the new regulation, drivers are only allowed to drive 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days. Another provision is that drivers must take a half hour break after eight hours of driving. One provision that was retained by the FMCSA is the 11-hour daily driving limit. The FMCSA was considering lowering it to 10 hours.

FMCSA’s position is that it does not want to delay the pending Hours of Services changes and compromise public safety.  The next several months should be interesting as both sides present their arguments during the court case.

About the Author

James (Jim) Bisaha is Vice President of SDS Partners and has over 30 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry. His previous roles include IT Director at UPS Supply Chain Solutions and a Member of the Supply Chain Advisory Board at the University of Akron.