Appeals Court Denies Challenge to Hours-of-Service Changes

A petition to overturn recent changes to the hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers has been rejected in federal court. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled July 26 that revisions to the hours-of-service regulations are legal, court records show. The ruling is a win for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which implemented the changes in September 2020. 

These changes include extending the maximum duty period allowed under the short-haul exception from 12 to 14 hours and the maximum radius in which the exception applies from 100 to 150 miles. 

Also, the 30-minute break provision was weakened to include time spent doing “job-required physical labor like loading and unloading the vehicle.” 

Shortly after these changes took effect, a group comprised of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Parents Against Tired Truckers filed the petition.  

The group contended that the FMCSA’s changes were “arbitrary and capricious for failing to grapple with the safety and driver-health consequences of changes.” 

The case was put on hold during the transition between presidential administrations and was finally argued on April 25. 

In giving the opinion of the court’s three-member panel, Judge Patricia Millett wrote that “while aspects of the administration’s analysis and reasoning leave much to be desired,” FMCSA “sufficiently explained and factually justified its conclusions that the new short-haul exemption and the 30- minute break requirement would not adversely affect safety, driver health, or regulatory compliance.”