A provision on truck driver hours of service regulations has been added to a short term spending bill expected to be approved by Congress on December 9.
Bill Would Keep Prevent The Return To Obama Administration Restart Rules
The provision would make the current hours of service regulations permanent. This means that the revert back to the pre-July 2013 34-hour restart rules is here to stay if the spending bill passes.
Under the Obama administration in 2013, changes were made to the 34 hour restart rule that required two no-driving nighttime periods between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. during the restart period. That ruling also limited drivers to one restart period per week, which would have capped a driver at 70 hours per week. These changes were part of an attempt to combat driver fatigue.
These changes were rolled back after 18 months as the FMCSA was ordered to complete a study comparing the safety impacts of both the pre and post 2013 restart regulations.
2015 Legislative Error Threatened To Kill 34 Hour Restart Provision Entirely
Because the study was not completed or submitted by the end of 2015, Congress continued the pre-2013 suspension of enforcement, but the according to the DOT’s interpretation of the legislation, without the study proving that the 2013 changes met standards set by Congress “the entire restart provision would have to be vacated.” This was considered to be a drafting error by legislators and the ATA urged a quick fix from Congress.
The proposed trucking provision in the spending bill would be the fix that the ATA is looking for and they have thanked Congress in advance for it: “ATA thanks Congress for including what should be a permanent fix to the hours-of-service restart in this Continuing Resolution, and we look forward to its final passage into law to resolve this issue. Reverting back to the pre-July 2013 restart shifts the emphasis back to safety by removing flawed data from the rulemaking process. The entire industry will now be able to comply with this rule thanks to a common sense approach championed by a bipartisan group of legislators.”
It is possible that Obama could veto the bill, but doing so would risk a government shut down.