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ATA brief asks court to set aside portions of new HOS rule

In its brief, ATA calls FMCSA’s changes “arbitrary and capricious as well as unwarranted.”

The Trucker News Services

7/24/2012

ARLINGTON, Va. – In a brief filed Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the American Trucking Associations said federal rules further restricting drivers’ ability to work and drive would add tremendous cost to the economy and undue burden onto drivers while providing minimal possible safety benefits.

The ATA is the petitioner in a suit filed with the court in February asking the court to review the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s final HOS rule published in December 2011.

The association was joined by a lengthy list of interveners, including the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association, the National Industrial Transportation League, William B. Trescott, Health and Personal Care Logistics, the National Shipper’s Strategic Transportation Council and the Truckload Carriers Association.

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“From the outset of FMCSA’s review of the hours-of-service rule, ATA has contended that the rules that have been in place since 2004 have been working and have been a major contributing factor in the reduction in truck-involved crashes and fatalities,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said. “FMCSA systematically, and without regard for science or logic, distorted the available data in order to fit it to a predetermined and arbitrary outcome. The brief filed today lays out this case convincingly and we believe the court will come to see the merits of our case and vacate these potentially ruinous changes.”

In its brief, ATA calls FMCSA’s changes “arbitrary and capricious as well as unwarranted.”

The ATA and other groups have complained most about provisions in the new rule that restrict the use of the 34-hour restart to only once every 168 hours and require that any 34-hour restart include to 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods, and the off-duty break requirement that says a trucker may drive only if eight hours or less have passed since end of driver's last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes. They are also concerned that the new rule narrowed the regulatory exemption granted to short-haul driviers by subjecting those drivers to the off-duty break requirement.

The ATA brief asks that all four provisions in the new rule be set aside as arbitrary and capricious.

“The agency claims that restart restrictions and the off-duty break requirement are justified by the cost-benefit analysis in FMCSA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis. That ‘analysis,’ however, is a sham,” the brief said. “FMCSA stacked the deck in favor of its preferred outcome by basing its cost-benefit calculations on a host of transparently unjustifiable assumptions. FMCSA therefore cannot justify the 2011 final rule on the ground that it has net benefits.”

ATA continues to say the agency’s “purported justifications contradict the evidence in the administrative record and require the agency to ignore, without any supporting basis, numerous positions it previously adopted.”

To review ATA’s brief, please click here.

The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at editor@thetrucker.com.

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