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Restart rollback a go: Senate sends bill to White House

Dec. 15, 2014
ATA applauds measure's inclusion in omnibus bill as 'common sense fix to two unjustified provisions'

The rider to roll back two provisions of the 34-hour restart rule for truck drivers remained attached to the so-called Cromnibus bill the Senate passed on Saturday night.

The restart rollback will kick in as soon as President Obama, as expected, signs the trillion-dollar omnibus funding package.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), suspends the Hours of Service (HOS) rule issued last year by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) requiring those drivers who use the 34-hour restart to do so only once a week and to take two consecutive 1:00-am to 5:00-am rest periods in that time.

The legislation also requires FMCSA to conduct what’s been termed a “real world” study of those regulations.

The rule suspension will remain in effect until Sept. 30 2015 or until the agency has completed that mandated impact study.

The American Trucking Assns. (ATA), which led the industry fight against the 34-hour restart provisions starting over a year ago, “thanked Congress for the common sense fix to two unjustified provisions” of the restart rule after the down-to-the-wire spending bill passed.

“We have known since the beginning that the federal government did not properly evaluate the potential impacts of the changes it made in July 2013,” said ATA president & CEO Bill Graves.

“Now, thanks to the hard work of Senator Collins and many others," he continued, "we have a common sense solution. Suspending these restrictions until all the proper research can be done is a reasonable step.”

The language of the rollback measure, known as the Collins Amendment for its author, was “adopted by a strong bipartisan vote of the Senate Appropriations Committee,” per ATA. 

“I truly want to thank Congress for including these provisions, and for listening to the industry’s very real safety concerns on the issue and not being swayed by base emotions,” Graves remarked. “In debates about safety, it is often easy to make emotional, but misleading, claims about our industry and we’re pleased that those claims did not carry the day and our elected officials were won over by facts and evidence.”

He also pointed out that “there has been an increase in early hour driving by truckers– statistically the riskiest time of day and an unpopular outcome of this rule, according to a national poll from Public Opinion Strategies.”

Indeed, ATA chairman Duane Long, chairman of Raleigh, NC-based Longistics, commented that “fleets from around the country, including mine, tried to tell FMCSA that the previous rules were working just fine and that these new restart provisions were going to cause unintended problems.

“Those warnings went unheeded at the time,” Long continued. “But we’re glad Senator Collins and others in Congress listened to us and that we’ll finally get a full examination of the potential impacts of these rules. We call on President Obama to quickly sign this omnibus spending bill, which will immediately enact this suspension.”

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