Once again, the Hours-of-Service (HOS) has been upheld by a federal court.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied petitions to vacate the HOS rule, which were filed by Public Citizen and the American Trucking Associations (ATA). The two groups are against some facets of the rule from opposing standpoints on truck driving regulations.
Despite a majority of the concerns being rejected, the federal court did side with the ATA regarding one point and vacated a previous part of the HOS rule. As a result, short-haul truckers no longer have to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) previously required 30-minute off-duty breaks before driving more than eight hours straight.
The court upheld these breaks for all other truck drivers. The ATA challenged the mandatory breaks because the research the FMSCA cited had only justified required breaks from driving, not non-working breaks.
Filing an opinion on behalf of the court, Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote “… we conclude that what remains of the 2003 [HOS] Final Rule after two remands and three rulemakings are highly technical points best left to the agency. We therefore generally affirm the rule and vacate only the agency’s application of the 30-minute break to short-haul drivers.”
Beyond the one vacated decision, restrictions on the 34-hour restart that drivers can use to reset weekly driving limits were upheld. The revised rule took effect July 1 and states that restarts can only be used once in every seven days and must include two periods from to 1-5 AM.
The ATA had filed the suit last year, asking the court to block the implementation of the HOS rule, which the group said used flawed examination and assumptions, and was an arbitrary and contrary ruling.
The court said that the FMCSA differentiates short-haul and long-haul truck drivers in many other provisions of the HOS regulation. Short-haul truckers are considered as drivers who stay within a 150-mile radius of their home-based workstation, return to it on a regular basis and operate a vehicle that does not require a commercial driver’s license.