On January 25, President and CEO of the American Trucking Association Bill Graves wrote a letter to the FMCSA requesting the agency abstain from implementing the upcoming changes to HOS, which are scheduled to take effect on July 1. The ATA has requested the agency set the date back three months.
The three-month delay would have given an appeals court time to render its decision on requests made by the ATA and other trucking groups to prevent the new regulations from going into effect.
In response to the request, FMCSA Chief Council T.F. Scott Darling III stated, “The FMCSA has evaluated the issues raised in your letter and, for the reasons set forth in this response, has determined that staying the compliance date of the rule is not warranted.”
Yesterday, American Trucking Association officials openly criticized the FMCSA for rejecting a request to delay implementation of its embattled hours-of-service rule.
“In a letter to the FMCSA, ATA General Counsel Prasad Sharma said that rather than deal in good faith with the substance of ATA’s request, FMCSA hid behind an irrelevant, legalistic analysis. While ATA asked merely for the agency to extend the rule’s implementation deadline—a request the agency could grant so long as there is a reasonable basis to do so—FMCSA’s chief counsel instead analyzed the request as though ATA were asking a court for an injunction forcing the agency to delay,” the press release stated.
Sharma stated, that should the court reject any provisions of the rule, the FMCSA’s unwillingness to delay the implementation would be a costly error for both the trucking and law enforcement communities.
“Despite a record of adverse decisions in past hours-of-service litigation,” Sharma wrote, “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.”
The ATA estimates that $320 million would be spent between now and the implementation date of July 1, on training and software reprogramming, money that would be wasted should the court side with the ATA.
“At a time of rising diesel prices, increased equipment and labor costs, the decision by the head of FMCSA to reject a reasonable request for a brief delay in enforcing this rule is unbelievable,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said.
The Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments about the HOS changes on March 15, and the ATA fears it make take several months for the court to render its decision on the matter.