A stroke of President Obama’s pen yesterday immediately suspended provisions of the 34-hour restart rule that had limited truck drivers to using the restart only once a week and had required them to take two consecutive 1:00 to 5:00 am rest periods in that time.
"This really matters since the restart requirements were suspended as soon as President Obama signed the bill," Shoaib Makani, founder/CEO of electronic driver log provider KeepTruckin, told FleetOwner.
He pointed out that "the actual bill states that 'the rule referred to in subsection (a) shall have no force or effect from the date of enactment of this Act through September 30, 2015, and the restart rule in effect on June 3 30, 2013, shall immediately be in effect.'"
Under the sponsorship of Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), legislation forcing the rollback of those restart provisions had been successfully attached to the gargantuan omnibus spending package that the Senate at last passed on Saturday night.
Dubbed the Collins Amendment, the restart measure also requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to carry out what has described as a “real world” study to assess the operational, safety, health and fatigue effects of those provisions of the Hours of Service regulations.
The affected rules will remain suspended until Sept. 30 2015 or until the agency has completed its study.
Whether or not the incoming Congress will extend the suspension or make permanent the rollbacks could hinge on what is revealed by the FMCSA study.
Indeed, at least one lawmaker who will be returning to Capitol Hill in January is already aiming to see the rollback reversed. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) told Politico.com: “I certainly will make an effort legislatively to reverse the rollback.
“All of the folks who have an interest in transportation safety are dismayed and disheartened by this rollback of common-sense safety rules, everyone from the Teamsters and the truck drivers to the safety advocates," Blumenthal also told Politico.com.