According to the American Trucking Associations, it will cost $320 million to prepare the industry for the impending hours of service rule change, and if a current court challenge is upheld, that money will be spent in vain.
Arguments in the case are scheduled for March 15.
The ATA argued that the denial to delay implementation of the rule change until three months after the pending court case is decide hinges on “a legal analysis that is wholly inapplicable” to the request, ATA General Counsel Prasad Sharma wrote in a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
On Jan. 25, ATA President Bill Graves requested in a letter that the Transportation Department agency delay the beginning of the rules. In the letter, Graves wrote a three-month delay would have little impact on highway safety, but will prevent confusion if the court’s decision impacts the law.
Graves received a response from FMCSA on Feb. 22 that determined a stay of compliance was not warranted because the ATA failed to demonstrate “good cause” to delay the rule change. The main reason for the FMCSA’s denial, however, is the ATA failed to present any reason for a stay under criteria commonly applied by courts.
In the response to the rejection, Sharma continued that, in addition to the unnecessary analysis, the agency’s decision will cause irreparable monetary damage to the industry.
“FMCSA is willing to risk wasting significant training resources – some of it taxpayer money used to train both agency staff and the state enforcement community,” Sharma wrote in a letter to FMCSA.
“ATA believes it has a strong legal case,” he continued. “However, ATA and its members will not recklessly gamble on the anticipated outcome of litigation to be decided in the near future.”
In February 2012, the ATA brought a challenge to the proposed hours of service rule change, arguing that the current driver rest hours were sufficient. The organization based this argument on the fact that there had been no substantial evidence of a decrease in driver safety since 2003, when the previous rule was enacted.
On July 1, all carriers are to comply with the new rules, which limit the number of consecutive hours drivers can operate their vehicles. - Jon Ross