Legal: Courts Rule on Hours of Service

If you haven’t already read about it, you will probably want to make yourself aware of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruling regarding Hours of Service rules for truckers. The court ruled unanimously to reduce the maximum hours a day from 11 to 10, and further ruled that the current 34-hour restart in a 7-8 day cycle should be eliminated, with only 70 hours of work permitted in any 8 day period.

While the changes are not scheduled to go into effect until September 14th, the ruling does create some confusion within the industry. As Chris Burress from the Truckload Carriers Association stated, “It’s the uncertainty that people are grappling with right now. I certainly think the two provisions [vacated by the court] — the 34-hour restart and the [prospect of] 11 hours going back to 10 — obviously are going to create some problems for us. Since the rule was first introduced in 2003, we’ve had nothing but uncertainty in the Hours of Service rules and that creates havoc in our industry.”

American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves, who heads one of the strongest lobbying groups in Washington advocating on behalf of trucking companies, said they are going to call on Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to push for a stay of the ruling, while also asking the FMCSA to conduct an expedited rulemaking to address the courts concerns.

This is certainly a major ruling and one that could have serious outcomes for the industry and the economy. As a former Washington staffer, I would encourage those that will be harmed by this to get in touch with your various associations and share your thoughts.

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