The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently refused to delay the start of new hours-of-service (HOS) regulations - scheduled to take effect July 1 - after the American Trucking Associations (ATA) requested these updates be pushed back several months.
HOS rules challenged
One of the provisions of the new HOS rule being challenged is its change in allowing a 34-hour restart once per week, with restart times to incorporate time off between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., as well as the requirement for drivers to take a 30-minute break after no more than eight hours of work. The ATA and several other groups are currently waiting on a court decision that could overturn the rule completely, making the implementation of new procedures unnecessary, which was their reason for seeking the delay in the first place. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is set to hear oral arguments against the new regulations March 15.
The FMCSA claimed the ATA did not provide good cause to have the compliance date pushed back, which virtually guarantees drivers will need to be in step with new guidelines by July 1. According to TheTrucker.com, the ATA's request for a delay failed to meet the criteria that warrants keeping current rules in place until a court decision has been made.
"We are disappointed that FMCSA refused to delay enforcement of its upcoming HOS rule changes until after the D.C. Circuit has ruled on ATA's (and other groups') pending challenges to the rule," said Dave Osiecki, senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs at the ATA, according to TheTrucker.com. "FMCSA's response means that carriers, shippers and FMCSA-funded state enforcement agencies will have to spend time and money on training and adapting systems to a rule whose final form will not be certain until the court issues its decision. That's why not only ATA, but also the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the National Industrial Transportation League and the National Association of Manufacturers all asked the FMCSA to provide three months after the court's decision before enforcing rule changes."
Remaining in compliance with rules essential
It appears as though the changes will still take effect July 1. Even if the new HOS rules are overturned in the coming months, drivers will need to follow the new guidelines until the court decision has been finalized.
Both private fleets using routing software and commercial fleets using transportation management software should ensure their systems are able to account for the new hours-of-service rules in their time-planning calculations. The use of TMS or fleet management software can help keep drivers connected with management teams to ensure safe and compliant procedures are being followed. To guarantee drivers are able to take breaks in accordance with the law and still make deliveries on time, some companies may choose to use routing and scheduling software to help plan the most efficient travel routes while incorporating any mandated breaks so that all pickups and deliveries can be made on time.