The American Trucking Associations argued Friday in front of a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours of service rule changes should not be implemented.
General counsel for the ATA argued the existing rules are sufficient and changing the rules, which will go into effect July 1, is “baseless.” Prasad Sharma, who is representing the ATA, also said the changes were “agenda-driven rather than evidence-based.”
The new rules would limit the use of restart periods to once every seven days and mandate off-duty breaks in specific time windows, among other changes
The ATA is hoping for a swift ruling by the three-judge panel, but if the judges don’t rule until after July 1, the new rules would go into effect regardless of what the judges ultimately decide. To prevent carriers from preparing for a rule that has the potential to be struck down after the fact, the ATA had requested a delay of the rule until 30 days after the judges make a decision. Late last month, the FMCSA rejected the request.
In an interview with American Shipper
, James H. Burnley IV, a partner at law firm Venable, pointed to the long history of the hours of service rules and the inclinations of previous judges to strike down the rules when they were challenged in court. He also added that FMCSA’s decision to not delay the law could possibly lead to “a fair amount of chaos,” if the rule is overturned.
“If the court does not rule before July 1 then shortly after overturns the rule again, there will have been a great deal of effort and expense unnecessarily to prepare for compliance on July 1,” he said.
For his part, Burnley couldn’t handicap the court’s decision one way or the other.
“Anybody that expresses confidence about the outcome is making it up - either that it’s going to be overturned or it’s going to be upheld,” he said. “I don’t know how you could have any confidence either way.” - Jon Ross