The FMCSA is not getting any love this week. A motley group of trucking and safety associations have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to review hours of service (HOS) regulations. Under specific scrutiny are the following elements: the 11-hour daily driving limit, limitations on the 34-hour restart rule and the required 30-minute break.
The American Trucking Association, among other groups, are taking specific issues with the 34-hour restart provision which requires two rest periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. and the mandatory half-hour break. As an alternative, the group says they would prefer a 10-hour daily driving limit and no restart provisions.
The FMCSA defended its regulations by noting that its decision was based on scientific data and specific methodologies. “As the agency’s cost/benefit analysis shows, the benefits of the limitations in terms of crash reduction and health effects more than outweigh their productivity costs,” the FMCSA brief said. “The contention of ATA petitioners that an unlimited restart is the only rational decision FMCSA could have made here is therefore incorrect.”
The decision to set the hours of service rule at 11 hours of daily service rather than 10 hours was intentional, according to the administration. They noted that even a small increased risk of crashes associated with driving 11 hours per day would be outweighed by productivity savings. As the report noted, “FMCSA is required to consider this [productivity] cost, and the agency properly did so when it exercised its discretion to allow up to 11 hours of driving per day.”
In addition, the agency defended its decision to include a mandatory half-hour break that must be taken off-duty. According to the FMCSA, “ATA petitioners’ challenge to this aspect of the rule is based upon a misreading of the scientific studies.”
In addition to the above provisions, the FMCSA’s new HOS rule also does the following:
- Reduces the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week by 12 hours.
- Limits a driver's work week to 70 hours. Under the old rule, truck drivers could work up to 82 hours a week.
- Truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without taking an off-duty break of at least 30 minutes.
Trucking companies that violate aspects of the rule may be fined $11,000 per offense; drivers could face $2,750 for each offense.
The U.S. Court of Appeals has not set a date to review the ruling.