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ATA asks FMCSA to delay new HOS until after court decision

The ATA and trucking stakeholders are primarily challenging the new 34-hour restart provision which limits a driver to one restart every 168 hours and requires two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. timeframes.

By LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff

1/29/2013

WASHINGTON — The American Trucking Associations has asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to delay implementation of the new Hours of Service rule until three months after an appeals court renders a decision on requests by the ATA and safety advocacy groups to have the rule overturned.

“The requested delay will avoid potentially duplicative and unnecessary training, prevent confusion if the court’s decision alters in any manner the final rule, and, given the anticipated short length of the delay, will have no measureable impact on highway safety,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves wrote in a letter to FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro.

FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne said the agency was studying the request.

In his letter, Graves noted that the FMCSA had recognized that "industry and law enforcement may need extra time to train personnel and to adjust schedules and automated systems," a phrase lifted directly from the new rule published Dec. 27, 2011.

“Several commenters noted that software development, programming and testing would take up to 18 months,” Graves wrote. “Much of that work is well under way. However, to preserve the effectiveness of training by linking it as closely as possible to the date the rule changes become effective for compliance purposes, motor carriers and law enforcement have yet to fully deploy their training resources. In our discussions with our respective members, that training is expected to begin three months prior to the compliance effective date, consistent with comments in the [public] record. . . . FMCSA's own schedule suggests training materials will not be delivered to the states until ‘between April and June of 2013.’”

Graves said the ATA had hoped that the related litigation would have been decided far enough in advance for industry and the enforcement community to be certain of the rules on which to train various constituencies.

Unfortunately, the court's scheduling of oral argument for March 15 makes that unlikely, Graves told Ferro.

“However, the scheduling also suggests a decision is not very far off,” Graves wrote. “It would be a waste of industry, FMCSA and enforcement community resources to require training based on the final rule beginning in April only to have that rule altered in some manner via the court's  decision in mid-May or early June.”

Graves said the delay would be in keeping with the Obama administration’s pledge to eliminating “ . . . unjustified burdens on small businesses and to ensure that regulations are designed with careful consideration of their effects.”

The ATA and trucking stakeholders are primarily challenging the new 34-hour restart provision which limits a driver to one restart every 168 hours and requires two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. timeframes.

Safety advocates would like to see the restart eliminated and the 11-hour daily driving limit reduced to 10 hours or less.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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