The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is permanently suspending amendments to the 34-hour restart provisions issued in 2013 under U.S. DOT driver hours of service (HOS) regulations.
The amendments required any 34-hour work week restart to include two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. rest periods; limited driver’s use of restart to once per 168 hours; and required a 30 minute rest break period within the first 8 hours from the time a driver comes on duty. Only the 30 minute rest period remains in effect for long-haul drivers only. The 30 minute break period does not apply to petroleum marketers qualifying for the short-haul driver exception from keeping written hours of service log books.
The written log book exception applies if drivers stay within a 100-air mile radius (115.08 statute miles) of their normal reporting location and return to that location at the end of their shift after a maximum 12 hour period on duty.
In response to industry pressure, Congress temporarily suspended the controversial restart amendments in December 2014 as part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015. The suspension was to remain in place until the FMCSA conducted a new study to determine whether the 2013 restart amendments actually provided any additional benefits related to driver operation, safety, fatigue and health. The Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Restart Study, released by the FMCSA last week, concluded that the 2013 restart amendments offered no additional benefits in any of these categories.
As a result, the U.S. DOT’s Office of Inspector General informed Congress in a letter last week of the study findings and the FMCSA posted a notice on its website announcing the permanent suspension of the 2013 amendments. The FMCSA announcement means that the 34-restart provisions in effect before the July 1, 2013 amendments were finalized now apply. Drivers have been operating under those regulations since the Congressional freeze was imposed. The pre-2013 regulations now in effect allow drivers to invoke the 34-hour restart as often as they like without waiting 168 hours between restarts or including two consecutive rest periods between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. before returning to duty.
If you have any questions regarding the new hours of service rules, send me an email specific to your area of concern. I’ll be glad to answer your question.