ATA Files Petition Against FMCSA, Teamsters Expected to Join Suit

The American Trucking Association (ATA) has filed suit to stop new regulations the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) plans to implement. The recent rule changes would impact current hours-in-service regulations that apply to the commercial trucking industry. Although there has been a great deal of speculation that the Teamsters will join the suit, the union has not yet made a move to do so.

ATA President Bill Graves explained why the ATA objects to the rule change. “We regret that FMCSA and the Obama administration have put ATA and its member companies in a position to take this legal action,” he said. “The rules that have been in place since 2004 have contributed to unprecedented improvement in highway safety. The law is clear about what steps FMCSA must undertake to change the rules and we cannot allow this rulemaking, which was fueled by changed assumptions and analyses that do not meet the required legal standards, to remain unchallenged.”

According to Graves, there are other options available to the industry that would improve highway safety without saddling trucking companies and those who work at truck driving jobs with the financial burdens the new rules represent. He emphasized that the ATA will lend its considerable support to the FMCSA when it comes to implementing well-researched rules and programs that have been shown to have the potential to improve highway safety. Trucking companies are committed to driver safety, but they also feel the need to increase the number of truck driving jobs.

For example, the ATA backs the FMCSA’s plan to require electronic recorders on commercial trucks to ensure that drivers are following the current regulations and to aid in the enforcement of those requirements. The ATA believes the current regulations are achieving their goals.

Those who oppose the new rules point out that the FMCSA’s own data shows that the dangers caused by fatigue are small in comparison to the dangers posed by drivers who are traveling too fast for road conditions. In response to the FMCSA’s reports, the ATA has called for electronic governors to limit the speed of big trucks, as well as a nationwide 65 mile-per-hour speed limit to minimize the problems caused by car-truck speed differentials. It has also declared its support of the development and implementation of automated traffic safety enforcement methods.

In addition to these recommendations, the ATA has also expressed support for the increased use of active safety technologies and the development of programs to tackle the serious issue of distracted and inattentive driving. These issues have been at the forefront of safety concerns in recent years, as it has been increasingly recognized that distracted or inattentive drivers are responsible for a high percentage of all crashes, including those involving only non-commercial drivers.

“Improving highway and truck safety is about understanding the behaviors and events that precipitate crashes and about implementing programs and countermeasures that truly address those causes. We trust FMCSA will be a partner with ATA in implementing meaningful countermeasures aimed at the biggest causes of crashes,” said Dan England, Chairman of the ATA.

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