drivingThe American Trucking Association (ATA) lost its bid to have U.S. Transportation Department hours-of-service (HOS) regulations overturned by the Court of Appeals in Washington earlier this month. A three-judge panel most of the arguments made by the ATA as “highly technical points best left to the agency.”

The regulations are intended to reduce accidents by mandating that truck drivers get more rest. The final rule continues the 11-hour limit on a trucker’s driving day from previous rules and also requires a 34-hour rest period each week so drivers would be off two consecutive nights.

Additionally, truckers may drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes.

"Maximum civil penalties"

Driving or allowing a driver to drive more than 3 hours beyond the driving-time limit may be considered an egregious violation and subject to the maximum civil penalties, according to the enforcement clause of the regulation.

The ATA maintains that changes to federal hours-of-service rules are costly and unsupported by data or research. Testifying in June before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s panel on highways and transit, Steve Williams, chairman and CEO of Maverick USA, said the regulations would cause the industry to lose operating flexibility and productivity, which would translate to up to an estimated $1.4 billion in lost productivity.

Not far enough?

A coalition that included advocacy group Public Citizen and the Truck Safety Coalition also challenged the HOS regulation, claiming that it didn’t go far enough to improve truck-related safety. The panel ruled against that challenge as well.

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the trucking industry has the eight-highest fatality rate in the U.S.

A spokesman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) said the court’s decision will reduce driver fatigue, a leading factor in truck crashes.

“The ruling recognizes the sensible, data-driven approach that was taken,” said Duane DeBruyne in a statement. It “also provides added certainty for all affected, moving forward.”

In a statement released by the ATA, senior VP Dave Osiecki disputed the data and said the ruling opened the door to “similarly unsubstantiated rulemakings in the future.”

Click here for more information about the HOS final rule.