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House approves amendment to standardize rules on meal, rest breaks

The House of Representatives approved an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill that would prevent states from creating a patchwork of meal and rest rules for interstate truck drivers.

The amendment, also known as the Denham-Cuellar-Costa Amendment, was approved by a bipartisan vote as part of the FAA reauthorization bill currently being debated by the House. It would standardize the meal and rest break provision for truck drivers by requiring all states to follow hours-of-service regulations.

California is currently the only state that requires paid meal and rest breaks for truck drivers, though several court decisions have opened the door for other states to consider similar steps. Trucking groups have suggested fleets are exempt under federal law from individual state measures.

The American Trucking Associations touted the move.

“Our industry’s trucks routinely cross state lines to deliver America’s food, fuel, medicine and other essential goods,” said ATA Chairman Dave Manning, president of TCW Inc. “Today’s vote is a key step in making sure the interstate supply chain continues to run safely and efficiently and without a hodgepodge of confusing and duplicative state rules. The entire trucking industry thanks Reps. Denham, Cuellar and Costa for their leadership on this matter, and we urge the full Congress to quickly move to protect the federal government’s authority to oversee highway safety.”

The Teamsters union has maintained that provisions like this "are unwise and dangerous to the public." Last summer Teamsters general president James P. Hoffa commented: "They are putting special interests ahead of the public interest. These provisions ignore decades of state law and, in some cases, change the law before it is even enacted."

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