The American Trucking Assns. is lauding a congressional “fix” to the 34-hour restart rule. The hours-of-service issue is one of a number of items included in a Continuing Resolution that would keep the federal government operating past Friday, when current funding expires.
“ATA thanks Congress for including what should be a permanent fix to the hours-of-service restart in this Continuing Resolution, and we look forward to its final passage into law to resolve this issue,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said in a statement. “Reverting back to the pre-July 2013 restart shifts the emphasis back to safety by removing flawed data from the rulemaking process. The entire industry will now be able to comply with this rule thanks to a common sense approach championed by a bipartisan group of legislators.”
“While ATA sought the same for preempting states that have added redundant rest break requirements on top of the existing federal standard, ATA will continue to push hard for federal preemption of specific state laws when the 115th Congress convenes next month,” Spear added.
According to a report in The Hill, the House Appropriations Committee released the CR Tuesday evening, which funds the government through April 28. According to the report, last year’s omnibus spending bill suspended President Obama’s proposed changes to the hours-of-service rule until the DOT can prove the regulation would actually improve driver health and safety.
Back in April, the Senate Appropriations committee approved a Dept. of Transportation budget bill that includes language to correct a potential problem with the 34-hour restart. In an appropriations package two years ago, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) included language that initially rolled back the restart provisions on hours of service limits, pending further study of 2013 changes by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
But the current budget appropriation, passed by Congress in the previous government funding bill, contains an apparent legislative error in a clause meant to preserve the restart status quo until the study is complete. So, the funding bill for the 2017 fiscal year contains a correction. Specifically, if the study shows that the 2013 restart changes have resulted in “demonstrated statistically significant improvement” in highway safety and driver health, then those changes—which included two consecutive overnight off-duty periods—would be reinstated.
However, if the study does not support the 2013 restart changes, then the previous restart rules would be restored with this addition: “A driver who uses that restart rule may not drive after being on duty more than 73 hours in any period of 7 consecutive days.”