Since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced new Hours of Service (HOS) rules that are set to be implemented in July, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has fiercely protested the change. The rules would place limitations on drivers' handling of their own schedules and mandate breaks the ATA claims will not enhance safety and are not based on valid data.
The ATA recently took its case to court, requesting the ruling be overturned. Their argument was just taken up by the United States Court of Appeals. Because it's unclear when the ruling will reveal whether or not the July 1 start date will still be effective, the ATA requested the FMCSA hold off on enforcing any new rules until three months after the ruling. The organization claims it would be costly and time consuming for transportation companies to start implementing new rules only to have them overturned by a court decision. The FMCSA refused, and the ATA is now hoping for a swift ruling that strikes down the new regulations.
The reasoning behind the appeal
Representatives for the ATA are concerned the new regulations will make it more difficult for drivers to do their jobs well and make it harder for transportation companies to function. The strict off-duty break periods would mandate drivers stop at certain times. The ATA also believes they could compromise safe driving and cause additional holdups and traffic jams by forcing trucks onto the road during peak driving periods, according to Bloomberg.
"The existing rules have a proven track record, and the agency's purported reasons for tinkering with them were baseless," said Prasad Sharma, general counsel for the ATA. "We're hopeful the judges will see through the agency's mere pleas for deference and after-the-fact explanations for a rule that was agenda-driven rather than evidence-based."
Managing drivers during uncertain periods
While it's still unclear whether the rule will be upheld or struck down, it's critical for transportation companies to prepare for both outcomes. Fleet managers who use vehicle routing software or more comprehensive transportation management software can ensure their drivers are scheduled and routed for maximum productivity within any driving period as they make deliveries and pickups. Routing and scheduling software can plan driver and truck productivity quickly for daily, weekly or monthly schedules, based on incoming or existing orders. Using route optimization software can also help companies cut down on fuel expenses and maintenance costs through reduction in wasted mileage as they prepare for the potential costs associated with the new HOS rules.