On August 2nd the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld most of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new transportation laws regarding federal hours of service rules, with the exception of a 30-minute rest requirement for short-haul truck drivers.
The American Trucking Associations then released a Q&A to address the most frequently asked questions surrounding the court’s ruling.
ATA QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ON AUG. 2 HOS COURT RULING
Q: What was the Court’s decision?
A: The Court denied ATA’s request that it vacate the restrictions on use of the 34-hour restart provision that went into effect on July 1 of this year. However, the Court did rule favorably on ATA’s request that it vacate the rest break requirements for “short-haul” drivers. The Court accepted ATA’s arguments that the differences between long-haul drivers and short-haul drivers was such that applying the rest break requirement made no sense — particularly given FMCSA’s failure to attempt a justification during the rule-making.
Q: When does the Court’s decision take effect?
A: The parties in the case have 45 days in which to challenge the Court’s ruling. Assuming no party seeks a rehearing, the Court’s decision should take effect after this “challenge window” closes on September 9th. Until that time, motor carriers must comply with all elements of the current hours of service regulations.
Q: What is a “short-haul” driver?
A: A short-haul driver is one who meets the conditions to qualify for a record of duty status (log) exemption in 395.1 (e) (but see next Q&A).
These include two groups of drivers:
1. those who operate exclusively within a 100-air-mile radius of their normal work reporting location and report to and are released from the same location daily within 12 consecutive hours of reporting for duty
2. non-CDL holders who operate exclusively within a 150-air-mile radius of the work reporting location
Q: Are both types of short-haul drivers impacted by the Court’s decision?
A: Technically speaking, the Court’s decision only speaks specifically to non-CDL holders who operate within a 150-air-mile radius. However, the Court also pointed out the distinction between short-haul and long-haul drivers generally, and how the intent of FMCSA’s changes to the hours of service rules was to address the latter. Consistent with the Court’s rationale, ATA believes both types of short-haul drivers were intended to be exempted from the rest break requirement. ATA will seek clarification from FMCSA before the Court’s decision takes effect.
Q: Will ATA or other parties to the case challenge the court’s ruling?
A: It is unlikely that ATA or other parties to the case will challenge the court’s ruling.
Q: Where can I get a copy of the Court’s ruling?
A: A copy can be downloaded from ATA’s website here.