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February 28, 2013 1:30 PM, EST
ATA Says No Delay of HOS Rule Will Cost Trucking Industry $320 Million

American Trucking Associations said Thursday the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s decision not to delay implementation of FMCSA’s hours-of-service rule will cost the trucking industry about $320 million between now and July 1.

The group released a letter it wrote to FMCSA in which it criticizes the agency’s recent rejection of ATA’s request to delay implementation of hours-of-service regulations scheduled to take effect July 1.

ATA wrote that the rule’s implementation — in the face of legal uncertainty because of ATA’s pending suit against FMCSA over several of the rule’s provisions — would lead to costs that “will have been irrevocably squandered” should the court agree with ATA, either in whole or in part.

“At a time of rising diesel prices, increased equipment and labor costs, the decision by the head of FMCSA to reject a reasonable request for a brief delay in enforcing this rule is unbelievable,” ATA President Bill Graves said in a statement.

In its letter, written by ATA General Counsel Prasad Sharma to FMCSA Chief Counsel Scott Darling, the group said that “FMCSA contrived an analysis under an inapplicable test to critique the sufficiency of ATA’s request.

“Despite a record of adverse decisions based on past [HOS] litigation, FMCSA is willing to risk wasting significant training resources — some of it taxpayer money used to train both agency staff and the state enforcement community,” the letter stated.

In a lawsuit filed in February 2012, ATA asked the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to overturn the changes, saying the agency overstated the role fatigue plays in truck crashes and that the new rule is too restrictive.

Oral arguments before the appeals court are scheduled for March 15.