February 4th, 2013
The American Trucking Association has recently requested that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hold off on its instatement of a new rule regarding hours of service. The association wants the government agency to withhold the new standards until three months after a court provides its ruling due to demands by the ATA and other advocacy organizations that the rule be overturned.
The CEO and president of the ATA, Bill Graves, stated in his letter to the FMCSA’s administrator, “By upholding this delay, companies can avoid redundant and costly training, prevent a lot of confusion and, considering how short the delay will be, will not be likely to have a noticeable affect on road safety.” Duane DeBruyne, spokeperson for the FMCSA, says that the agency is reviewing the request.
In the letter to the FMCSA, Mr. Graves claimed that both law enforcement and the industry would almost certainly require more time in order to train employees and to alter schedules and automated systems. He went on to state that, “A number of commenters estimate that the process of creating, programming and testing software could take as long as 18 months or more. A lot of that work is currently in progress. However, with consideration to the preservation of the efficacy of training by making it adhere as much as possible to the date of the rule changes, carrier companies and law enforcement need time to fully begin the appropriate employee training. During correspondence with the various members of our organization, with training slated to start three months before the rule becomes law, considering the comments in the public record, FMCSA’s schedule shows that the proper training materials won’t be distributed to the states until April or June of 2013.”
Mr. Graves said that the ATA has expected that the specifics of the law would have been planned on far enough beforehand to allow the industry and law enforcement to know on which rules they should train their employees. However, the fact that the court scheduled arguments for the 15th of March makes this unlikely.
The scheduling may also indicate that there is a definitive ruling in the near future, according to Mr. Graves. “It would be a massive waste of resources to mandate training based on a law set to take effect in April only to have it changed or overturned by the court’s ruing a month or two later.”
Mr. Graves believes that delaying the law would fall in alignment with President Obama’s promise to get rid of inappropriate hardships on small businesses and make sure that regulations are constructed and enacted with consideration to their potential effects.
Trucking stakeholders and the American Trucking Association are primarily contesting the 34-hour restart law that would limit truckers to one restart per 168 hour period and require two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. timeframes. Advocates for safety want to have the restart banished and reduce the 11-hour driving limit shortened to ten hours or under.