According to a Transport Topics article, the trucking industrys long-sought suspension of last years changes to the hours-of-service restart provision became reality recently as President Obama signed a $1 trillion fiscal 2015 funding bill. The law includes the amendment from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that suspends through Sept. 30 the requirement that drivers seeking to restart their weekly clocks take off two consecutive periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. The amendment also requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to report to Congress about the restart rules health claims.
FMCSA confirmed on its website that it has suspended the requirements regarding the restart of a drivers 60- or 70-hour limit that drivers were required to comply with since July 1, 2013. Separately, the agency said in a statement to Transport Topics that it is working to ensure that the 12,000 state and federal motor carrier enforcement personnel are prepared to revert back to the previous restart.
Truckers are still required to account for a 30-minute break during their shifts and adhere to all other pre-July 2013 HOS regulations. In Congress, Collins led the effort to include the restart suspension. A bipartisan group of lawmakers supported her efforts, arguing that the rule was pushing truckers to drive during congested daytime hours, increasing the risk of accidents.
We have known since the beginning that the federal government did not properly evaluate the potential impacts of the changes it made in July 2013, American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves said. Opponents, such as Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Cory Booker of New Jersey, claimed the new rule reduced driver fatigue. Blumenthal pledged to press ahead this year with undoing the suspension. The Democratic senators found support from several groups and the Obama administration.
Henry Jasny, general counsel for the Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety, opposed the measure: We think [the restart] is one of the few things the agency did to rein in and make safer the open-ended use of the restart. We thought it was reasonable, but we didnt think it went far enough.
Former FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg told TT the law will be a good opportunity for everybody to step back, and hopefully we can collect some good data . . . let the data direct the policy, rather than make policy with some very limited data.