34-hour Restart

A new study’s results have confirmed that truckers’ 34-hour restarts will no longer require two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and will not be limited to only once per week.

While the study has not been made public, the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General has issued a letter confirming the conclusions of the report. To comply with a directive from Congress, the results from the study mandate for the removal of both the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. regulation and the once a week limit.

The 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. requirement and the once-weekly limit have been suspended since December of 2014, awaiting the results of the U.S. DOT’s study. As stated, by an OIG update issued last week, the provisions did not enhance safety, at least to a degree to justify them. The study found that truckers who did adhere to the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. restart, did not operate any safer than truckers who did not abide by those rules.

A spokesperson from the DOT says the department is in the “final stages of reviewing the study” before they will be required to submit a final report to Congress. On Thursday, the DOT’s OIG, sent a letter signing off on the DOT study to Congress, saying that they were, in agreement with the report’s findings and that the DOT adhered to Congress’ directives in completing the research.

The study was conducted by the FMCSA, along with Virginia Tech, and included more than 200 drivers who were studied for the DOT report. The drivers were split into two groups, one group following the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. rule, the other group was given the option to use the restart whenever they wanted.

In July 2013, the more restrictive hours-of-service rules went into effect, receiving criticism from drivers and companies from all over the country for keeping drivers from returning to duty until 5 a.m. after a restart, even if the restart had consisted of a full 34 hours.

Main proponents against the new regulations, said that it forced more drivers into rush hour traffic, which then caused more safety and operational concerns. They also stated that the rules were put into effect by FMCSA with no scientific evidence to back up the restrictions.

In December of 2014, Congress cleared legislation to put the regulations on hold while requiring the FMCSA to perform the 34-hour restart study. Congress stated for the 2013 rules to go back into effect, the study must show significant safety and health benefits operating under the 2013 rules.

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