A federal court recently struck down the hours of service (HOS) regulations governing how long a tractor trailer driver can stay behind the wheel without taking a break. The court’s opinion was posted in one of my earlier blogs. The issue now is to determine what will happen to the HOS regulations as a result of this ruling?
Because the ATA (American Trucking Association) filed a stay to prevent the court from immediately implementing its decision, a stay automatically went into effect according to Robert Digges, deputy general counsel for ATA, until the court’s mandate is issued. The current HOS regulations therefore remain in effect.
If the stay is not granted, the current HOS regulations will be thrown out. ATA has requested the FMCSA put out an interim final rule, adopting the 11 hour standard. Arguably, if the FMCSA does not put out an interim rule, and the court issues a mandate throwing out the current regulations, there will be virtually no limits on how long a tractor trailer driver can stay behind the wheel. The old regulations are not a fallback as they were not simply modified to enact the current HOS regulation, they were thrown completely out.
Even if the FMCSA, or the court, simply implements a different standard, anything other than what is currently in effect, there will be significant issues in adopting the new standard. Drivers and dispatchers need to be trained on the new regulations. Any truck with a physical EOBR will have to have it updated by driving to a location where they can be manually updated. The wireless EOBR’s will have to have software upload, and this can be done over hate air and on the companies computers, but that software still must be tested and certified to meet the new regulations.
The fall back for drivers is to record their HOS on paper logs, or comic books (they are called comic books because they are so "funny" ) that everyone in the industry knows are fabricated with alarming regularity.
I will be following this story with great interest and will keep you updated on developments.