Transportation Law

Ted Agniel, Esquire

Rulemaking of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on Hours of Service (HOS) is upheld, with the exception of the 30 minute break requirement for short-haul drivers.  American Trucking Associations, Inc. v. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 2013 WL 3956992 (C.A. D.C. August 2, 2013)

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) and various public interest organizations filed suit against the FMCSA contesting the FMCSA’s new HOS rules.  The ATA claimed the rules are overly restrictive and costly.  The public interest organizations and individual truck drivers claimed the rules were not sufficiently protective of public safety.   The new rules added “several new safety enhancing provisions”:

30-Minute Off-Duty Break, which bars truckers from driving past 8 hours unless they have had an off-duty break of at least 30 minutes;

Once-Per-Week Restriction, which permits truckers to invoke the “34 hour re-start provision” only once every 168 hours (or 7 days); and

Two-Night Requirement, which also mandates that the 34 hour restart include two blocks of time from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit took a “highly deferential” approach to the FMCSA’s rule making.  It upheld the new rules with the exception of the 30-Minute Off Duty Break as applied to short-haul drivers.   Noting that “short-haul trucking work has far more in common with other occupations than it does with regional or long-haul trucking,” the court stated that the FMCSA’s “2011 Final Rule contains not one word justifying the agency’s decision to apply the new requirement to the unique context of short-haul operations.”  The court therefore granted the ATA’s petition in part and vacated that part of the new rule concerning the 30-Minute Off-Duty Break for short-haul drivers.