Five pages within the 1,603-page document includes language that forbids the use of federal dollars to enforce the 34-hour restart rule that went into effect last summer.
“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 American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves in a statement. “Now, thanks to the hard work of Senator (Susan) Collins (R-Maine) and many others, we have a common sense solution. Suspending these restrictions until all the proper research can be done is a reasonable step.”
Before 2013, truck drivers could end their work week and then spend 34 consecutive hours off duty before starting a new work week. Under the new regulations that took hold in 2013, drivers had to wait much longer, with restarts having to contain two consecutive periods of time between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
While the FMCSA said that the 34-hour restart rule was designed to minimize driver fatigue, many in the trucking industry complained that it inadvertently caused other problems, such as road congestion and lower trucker productivity.
This doesn’t mean the change is permanent. There will be more research done to see if the change has had a positive impact.
With these changes, truckers will be permitted to take at least 34 hours off in between work shifts, regardless of the time that the person ends the shift. The research on the rule change must start within three months of the President signing the bill on December 16.
Research will include work schedule comparisons, safety, fatigue-related incidents, and more. The data will be collected by independent medical and scientific experts and logged electronically before being reviewed and assembled into a final report. In addition, the Department of Transportation Inspector General is required to review the study to make sure that it will provide accurate and helpful results.