The American Trucking Associations commended Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao recently for granting the Federation’s petition to pre-empt confusing and duplicative state rest break rules, asserting the federal government’s critical role in regulating interstate commerce.
“This is a victory for highway safety, not trial lawyers,” said ATA CEO Chris Spear. “The trucking industry supports our nation’s economic growth by safely and efficiently moving goods across state lines, and this decision by the Department of Transportation will save jobs, unburden businesses throughout the supply chain and keep the prices Americans pay for food, clothing and countless other essential items affordable and accessible.”
In late September, ATA petitioned DOT to pre-empt meal-and-rest break rules imposed by California, but primarily enforced via private lawsuits against motor carriers, on the grounds that a patchwork of rules related to driver hours of service harms safety, is in conflict with federal rules and causes “an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.”
“We were forced to ask DOT and the Secretary for this important, common sense solution because congressional dysfunction and gridlock prevented Congress from reasserting itself – as it had in 1994 – as the primary arbiter of interstate commerce, despite bipartisan, bicameral support,” Spear said. “We hope today’s ruling will once and for all underscore the importance of a single, national standard for work and safety rules for professional drivers.”
“For fleets like mine, knowing the rules will be the same for my drivers regardless of what state they’re delivering to is important,” said ATA Chairman Barry Pottle, president and CEO of Pottle’s Transportation. “I’d like to thank Secretary Chao for taking this step to make our highways safer by simplifying the lives and schedules of America’s truck drivers, but also recognize the efforts and persistence of the ATA staff who successfully built bipartisan consensus around solving this issue for carriers across the country.”
“As a driver, being safe and well-rested is my primary concern,” said Derrick Whittle, a professional driver with Cargo Transporters Inc., “and having a single set of rules to follow whether I’m in California or Colorado makes it easier for me to do my job.”