WASHINGTON, D.C. – The most controversial aspect of U.S. hours-of-service rules has been effectively suspended.
In a rare Saturday session, the U.S. senate voted to approve a $1.1 trillion ominibus bill that contained a rider to suspend funding enforcement of a much-reviled 34-hour reset rule that requires two consecutive off-duty periods between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) issued a statement following the vote thanking Congress – particularly Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) – for the “common sense fix.”
“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 and CEO Bill Graves. “Now, thanks to the hard work of Senator Collins and many others, we have a common sense solution. Suspending these restrictions until all the proper research can be done is a reasonable step.”
He told of a driver who had taken four days off for the recent Thanksgiving holiday, yet still faced hours-of-service limitations because that 96-hour break did not qualify as a 34-hour restart.
“That’s just one of the impacts FMCSA failed to research that we hope they fully examine as a result of this congressional mandate,” Graves said.
“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,” said ATA chairman Duane Long, chairman of Longistics, of Raleigh, N.C. “Those warnings went unheeded at the time, 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.”
It is now up to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to issue guidance on how the suspension will be implemented.