The US Senate Appropriations Committee voted to suspend the current 34-hour restart provision of the hours of service rule.
Heavy Duty Trucking and other US trade publications report the amendment – which suspends the two-night rest requirement and the once-a-week limitation on the restart — would take effect after the larger bill it’s part of has passed. It would last until September 30, 2015 or when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin completes its study on the impact of the restart rule, HDT reports.
The committee voted 21- 9 in favor of the amendment, which was attached to a Senate bill appropriating transportation funds for fiscal year 2015. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who proposed the amendment said “has become clear that the rules have had unintended consequences that are not in best interest of carriers, shippers and the public.”
The amendment says FMCSA funding will not include money to enforce the restart rule that took effect last June as part of the new hours of service rules.
During the suspension, the old restart provision would be in effect. It does not contain the requirement that drivers be off between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. on two successive nights during their restart, and the restriction limiting use of the restart to once a week.
The amendment also says that the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General must review the research plan before FMCSA starts work on it. Specifically, the IG must agree that there are enough drivers in the study and that the technologies the researchers will use are reliable.
However, the amendment is a long way from being a reality. It must clear the full Senate later this month and then be reconciled with the House on appropriations, leaving plenty of opportunities for opponents to seek changes, explains HDT.
The American Trucking Associations applauded the vote. “Since these rules were proposed in 2010, ATA has maintained that they were unsupported by science and since they were implemented in 2013 the industry and economy have experienced substantial negative effects as a result,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves in a statement. “Today, thanks to Senator Collins’ leadership, we are a step closer to reversing these damaging, unjustified regulations.”
FMCSA opposed the suspension but supports the study.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also thanked the Senators who voted for the suspension. Owner-ops have long pointed out the negative impacts of the 2013 changes on their ability to get rest, stay out of busy city traffic, spend time at home, and make a family-supporting income," said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.
Read the full HDT report here