Congress on Dec. 9 passed a stopgap appropriations measure known as a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded through April 28 that maintains a key provision in the federal Hours-of-Service rule that regulates truck driver work and rest pending the results of a Congressionally mandated study.
The language in the CR should restore, pending the results of a Department of Transportation (DOT) study, the HOS 34-hour restart rules to what they were before July 2013 when two restrictions were imposed on the nation’s truck drivers.
President Obama signed the bill early Saturday, the White House said in a statement.
A measure signed by the President in December 2015 included a provision that was designed to suspend a requirement that drivers rest for two consecutive nights from 1 a.m. - 5 a.m. if they want to avail themselves of the 34-hour "restart" provision under the HOS rule. That measure also called for a study confirming that requiring two consecutive nights of rest improved safety and driver health before the provision took effect.
In what many consider to be a drafting error, that legislation failed to specify that the industry would continue to operate under the current hours-of-service regime, and had been interpreted as requiring drivers to revert back to an older, more arcane and less manageable system.
The Congressional "fix" enables drivers to take a 34-hour rest to restart their HOS clock while still operating under the current HOS regime. Without this language, the ability of drivers to take a 34-hour rest would go away and the industry would be subject to weekly work limits of 60 hours in seven days and 70 hours in eight days.
This issue has been a top priority for trucking interests throughout 2016.
The trucking industry, including the American Trucking Associations, Truckload Carriers Association and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, maintain that it was never the intention of lawmakers to do away with the current 34-hour restart.
ATA President and CEO Chris Spear thanked Congress for enacting a fix to the HOS restart, calling it an important tool that gives drivers the flexibility to maximize off-duty time.
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