The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it is permanently suspending amendments to the 34-hour restart provisions that were issued in 2013. The announcement comes on the heels of a report that FMCSA submitted to Congress finding that the controversial Obama Administration hours of-service amendments resulted in no appreciable benefits.
The FMCSA report and subsequent announcement permanently suspending the restart provisions brings to a close a multi-year debate between the trucking industry and safety advocates. Trucking had argued that the new rule provided no safety benefit, and would have delayed the ability to deliver goods on schedule and avoid rush hour traffic.
Congress originally mandated the FMCSA report in December 2014 while putting the new requirements on hold.
The driver hours-of-service regulations in effect on June 30, 2013 -- and which will remain in effect going forward in light of FMCSA's recent actions -- prescribe the following:
- Drivers may drive 11 hours within a 13-hour non-extendable window after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in the most recent 7/8 days.
- Drivers may restart a weekly 60 or 70-hour duty cycle after taking a restart break of 34 or more consecutive hours off duty (commonly referred to as the "34-hour restart rule.")
Under the new restart rule that went into effect on July 1, 2013, if commercial drivers chose to use a provision allowing "restart" of the 60- or 70-hour duty-cycle limit, they were required to include at least two nighttime periods -- defined as periods from 1 a.m. until 5 a.m. -- in their restart breaks. Use of the 34-hour restart was limited to once every 168 hours.
Congress subsequently passed legislation that suspended enforcement of the new restart provisions pending the results of the recently-issued FMCSA study. The study was not able to demonstrate conclusively that the restart rule that went into effect on July 1, 2013, provided a greater net safety benefit than the restart rule that was in effect before that date. As a result, the new restart provisions will be permanently suspended.
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