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OOIDA, ATA disappointed with HOS ruling; want to move forward on ‘pressing’ issues

ATA said it hopes FMCSA will work with the trucking industry on unsafe driver behavior issues through “proven traffic enforcement activities.”

The Trucker Staff

8/2/2013

Two top trucking associations today responded to the upholding of a majority of the Hours of Service rule by a federal appeals court with some disappointment but also with the desire to move forward with other “pressing” safety issues.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s HOS rule with the exception of the agency’s application of the 30-minute off-duty break to include short-haul truckers who drive less than 150 air miles from their home terminals.

The court said it would “vacate the rule insofar as it subjects short-haul drivers to the 30-minute off-duty break requirements.”

A spokesman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) said now that the court’s decision has “put the issue to bed” for the time-being, it was time to address such safety issues as lack of basic training standards for new drivers, while an American Trucking Associations (ATA) spokesman called for the agency to address “more pressing safety and driver behavior issues.”

“Better trained drivers mean safer drivers,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer, adding that, “An experienced career trucker is the type that people want to share the road with, and training should be the biggest focus of highway safety efforts.”

An OOIDA new release noted that current rules don’t include training requirements despite a 1986 recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board and a congressional directive dating back as far as the 1990s.

“While new drivers must pass a CDL test, testing covers only basic operations and does not address the many on-the-road demands faced by truckers or the hundreds of regulations they are responsible for following,” the release added.

ATA Senior Vice President Dave Osiecki, while noting that the court’s vacating the 30-minute break requirement for short-haul drivers was an “important victory,” said ATA was disappointed that the court gave “unlimited deference” to FMCSA’s “agenda-driving rulemaking … .”

ATA was also disappointed that the court declined to “second guess” FMCSA’s methodologies and interpretations of the evidence, instead “taking a ‘highly deferential’ approach to the agency’s presumed expertise.”

The lobbying group agreed, however, with the court in finding “ … no merit in the challenge of the coalition of interest groups that have repeatedly fought to make a working regulation more restrictive, correctly concluding it ‘would have been unreasonable and unfounded on the record’ to reduce the driving day from 11 to 10 hours” and rejecting the safety groups’ call to eliminate the 34-hour-restart altogether.

Osiecki said ATA hopes FMCSA will work with the trucking industry on unsafe driver behavior issues through “proven traffic enforcement activities.”

To see the decision, click here: http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/D6BADB06E71C018F85257BBB004DEFAD/$file/12-1092-1449738.pdf

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

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