Trucking associations challenge new hours of service rules in court

Truckers often must work late or early hours in order to ensure that their delivery schedules are maintained. As a result, the federal government regulates how often truck drivers must take a rest from their labors, which are called hours of service rules (HOS), to make sure that truckers are alert and well rested when performing their job.

In 2011 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is responsible for implementing HOS rules, changed the existing rules in an attempt to reduce the number of truck accidents caused by driver fatigue. However, the changes have been challenged in court by the trucking lobby and various other groups.

What changes were implemented?

Under the regulations that were in effect before the changes were made, truck drivers were allowed to work up to 82 hours every seven days. The changes made in 2011, reduce this maximum to an average of 70 hours per week.

In addition, the new rules require that after spending 70 hours on duty, truck drivers must rest for 34 consecutive hours. This restart can only occur once a week and the rest must include two periods between the hours of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Finally, the new rules require all drivers who have worked for eight consecutive hours to take a 30-minute off-duty break before they can legally return to work.

Why are the rules being challenged?

The American Trucking Association, various other trucking associations and the trucking lobby have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to block implementation of the rules. Opponents of the rules, facing the high cost of compliance with the new regulations, contend that the changes would put "onerous restrictions" on each driver's ability to control and manage their own schedules.

According to opponents, the previous rules had a proven safety record. They argue that there is no evidence supporting the reasoning behind the new rules, so the changes were made in an arbitrary and capricious fashion. Under federal law, regulations that are implemented in such a fashion can be challenged and blocked from enforcement.

Both proponents and opponents of the new regulations urged the court to make a quick decision, although there is no formal deadline by which the court must do so. Unless a decision to the contrary is reached before then, the new rules are set to go into effect on July 1.

Consult an attorney

It is unclear at this point whether the challenge to the new rules will be upheld. However, it is indisputable that truck accidents are a major cause of injures and fatalities on our nation's roads. Unfortunately, driver fatigue or other forms of negligence cause many of such accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about your right to compensation.