ATA Files Issue Statement
The trucking industry is up in arms against recent changes to regulations made by President Barack Obama's administration that critics say would make truck driving jobs harder.
The American Trucking Association filed a lawsuit against the regulatory changes on Feb. 14, and the Truckload Carriers Association filed a motion to intervene a month later, seeking to join the suit.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration changed its rules governing hours of service for truck driving jobs.
The TCA issued a statement saying that the changes are not based on sound science, do not help increase traffic safety and make it harder for trucking companies to operate.
The ATA called the regulatory changes "arbitrary and capricious" and asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit to overturn the rules in a filing made on March 15.
The ATA contended that four aspects of the new rules do not meet legal requirements that changes to regulations must meet.
Specifically, the ATA challenged changing the restart provision so that truck drivers would be required to be off duty and resting for two consecutive time periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. The changes to the restart provision also limit how frequently a truck driver can use the measure.
The ATA also questioned the order for drivers to not do any work for trucking companies during their required half-hour break. As well, the association wants the court to strike down the effort to narrow exceptions to drive-time regulations that local delivery drivers can claim.
ATA President and Chief Executive Officer said Bill Graves said that efforts to work with the FMCSA over the new rules had failed. The association gave the federal agency "overwhelming evidence" that the new rules and the process by which they were made were flawed, he said, but the agency did not change the rules, so the ATA was pressed into filing a lawsuit.
"There are still many areas where the trucking industry and FMCSA can work together to make progress on highway safety, but the unsoundness of this regulatory process has forced us into court," Graves said in a statement.
TCA argues that the hours of service rules initiated in 2004 remain adequate to protect traffic safety. Since then, wrecks and traffic-related deaths involving commercial trucks have decreased each year, according to the TCA.
"While we remain committed to continuing to reduce accidents, we believe the new rule will take us backwards, not forward," TCA President Chris Burruss said in a press release. "We have an obligation to protect our drivers and the motoring public, and we believe this rulemaking stands in conflict with that obligation."
The regulatory changes are also being challenged by a coalition of safety advocacy groups. Separately from the trucking companies, the safety advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the FMCSAs rule changes on Feb. 24.
These are not the first legal challenges to changes to the hours of service rules. The Truck Safety Coalition, Public Citizen and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety sued over previous changes to the rules, forcing the FMCSA to issue rewrite them again.
It is that version of the rules that the ATA and TCA are challenging.