Business Coalition Challenges New Truck Driver Regulations
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In December of 2011, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a damaging regulation that would have a dramatic impact on businesses dependant on supply chains to move their goods. The U.S. Chamber fought back against the “Hours of Service” regulation, urging the agency to maintain the current law regulating commercial truck drivers. Unfortunately, FMCSA ignored many of the recommendations from industry and decided to move forward with their own solutions.
Today, the U.S. Chamber joined a diverse coalition of 15 trade associations and industry groups to file a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to strike down the new Hours of Service regulation. The brief details how virtually all goods in commerce travel by commercial truck at some point in the supply chain. Whether it is materials for manufacturers, finished product distribution, or products moving to land and seaports for export, the trucking industry is critical to our businesses. These new rules drive up costs for all of these businesses and make them less competitive.
The brief highlights a series of legal errors that FMCSA committed. The agency vastly over counts the “benefits” of the new regulations, and undercounted the costs that the regulations will impose on companies throughout the supply chain. The amicus brief argues that the FMCSA violated federal law when it failed to consider many of the negative effects that the new regulations could cause. In particular, FMCSA’s failure to consider that the rule will make it much more difficult for commercial truck drivers to make night-time and early-hour deliveries, which would likely result in:
- More commercial trucks on public roads at peak traffic hours, adding to congestion;
- Less safe roads due to changes in truck drivers’ natural sleep cycles and more commercial trucks on the roads at peak traffic hours;
- Fewer and more expensive deliveries of fresh food to restaurants and groceries; and
- Higher costs for companies throughout the supply chain - shippers, carriers, manufacturers, distribution centers, wholesalers, retailers, and, ultimately, consumers.
Not only did the agency fail to take into account these costs, they failed to adequately recognize the dramatic improvements in highway safety that resulted from the existing trucking regulations, which were implemented in 2003. The U.S. Chamber is committed to the safety of our roads, and the efficiency of our businesses. These two goals do not have to be mutually exclusive. The agency should be working with industry to pursue policies that promote both goals simultaneously, rather than pushing forward with harmful rules that move us in the opposite direction.
The case is American Trucking Associations, et al. (ATA) v. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 12-1092. Visit the website of the U.S. Chamber’s public policy law firm, the National Chamber Litigation Center, to learn more about the case and to read the brief.