Drivers

34-Hour Restart Takes Center Stage at Senate Safety Hearing

July 30, 2014

By Oliver Patton

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The impact of trucks hitting the road at dawn is one point of contention in the restart provisions.
The impact of trucks hitting the road at dawn is one point of contention in the restart provisions.

A Senate hearing on truck safety was dominated by the ongoing struggle over the 34-hour restart provision of the hours of service rule.

Anne Ferro, in what was probably her last congressional testimony before she steps down as chief of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, defended the restart.

The provision, which requires drivers to take two periods off between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during their 34-hour restart and limits use of the restart to once a week, puts common-sense limits on the most extreme driving schedules, Ferro said.

“The rule will assist in saving 400 lives a year,” she told the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday. “We have seen no documentation that it harms trucking companies. Tonnage is at an all-time high … and trucking profitability is on par for a record this year.”

And there is nothing in the rule that limits carriers’ ability to set their schedules as they see fit, she told Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.

Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., pressed the case for suspending the provision while FMCSA studies its impact on safety.

Ayotte said she wants more information about the safety impact of putting more trucks on the road early in the morning because of the rule.

“To delay the rule while we understand that seems to me seems logical,” Ayotte said. She also said that her shipper constituents tell her the rule is increasing costs and adding risk.

She and Blunt are in favor of an amendment by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to a Transportation Department appropriations bill that would suspend the restart while FMCSA studies its impact.

Also pending in that bill is another amendment by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., that would keep the restart in place while the study goes forward.

The issue is not resolved because the appropriations bill is stalled, but Blunt hinted that proponents of the suspension may be looking for another vehicle. “We’ll see if (the amendment) stays (in the appropriations bill),” he said.

Ferro told Ayotte that the agency estimates the provision is putting about 250,000 more trucks on the road, “a drop in the bucket compared to the 10 million” already on the road.

She also said that the provision has been in effect for a year and to roll it back would have an impact on safety.

Seconding this point was Major David Palmer of the Texas Department of Public Safety. “The HOS regulations are first and foremost safety regulations, not efficiency or productivity regulations,” Palmer said in his testimony.

“Temporarily suspending enforcement of a regulation not only takes inspection personnel away from their routine enforcement duties … it also requires expenditure of unplanned resources,” he said.

“We would prefer not to have to deal with retraining for something that could be temporary.”

Dave Osiecki, executive vice president and chief of national advocacy for American Trucking Associations, said that while ATA supports five of the six main components of the hours of service rule, it wants the restart provision suspended pending the study.

There is a safety cost to putting more trucks on the road early in the day, he said. “There’s an offset there, and the question is, what is that offset?”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., chairman of the Surface Transportation Subcommittee, said he wants to keep the restart provision in place while the study is under way.

“I strongly caution against discarding years of careful analysis,” he said “We should allow the rules to work before considering changes.”

Comments

  1. 1. Mr Truck [ July 30, 2014 @ 01:30PM ]

    “We would prefer not to have to deal with retraining for something that could be temporary.”

    Retraining?? They do training? If I recall, only a few months ago over half the states had yet to even train inspectors on the SMS program that was implemented in 2010! "Just write the tickets boys, we'll take care of any fallout. Besides the DataQ process is totally useless for carriers, we'll cover your backsides".

    This is all political theater. These bureaucrats have staked a position and they can't back away from it. Careers, reputations and Federal funding are at risk.

  2. 2. Dean Bartelucci [ July 31, 2014 @ 04:34AM ]

    Just go back to the old rules and have the reset increased to 48 hrs from start to finish..

  3. 3. BarbRRB [ July 31, 2014 @ 05:12AM ]

    Take a look at accidents/fatalities since the new regs. have taken place Vs- 3 years ago. I believe that these now regs push drivers way to much. there is NO wiggle room when you sit in traffic in morning rush hour. Then sit at the dock for 4 hours and dispatch... we truckers know how forceful and threatening they can be. The studies may be worth millions of dollars to some, I look at history and what has really happened.

  4. 4. JL [ July 31, 2014 @ 05:44AM ]

    I agree with BarbRRB. We have a year under our belt with the new regs. Lets look at the crash statistics and see. I think they'll find more accidents in the past year.

  5. 5. DOUG [ July 31, 2014 @ 05:47AM ]

    THE RULE IS RIDICULOUS. BUT WE ARE STUCK WITH IT 4 NOW. IF U CANT FIT YOUR BREAK TO RESTART THEN ITS TIME TO BREAK OUT YOUR LOG BOOK CALCULATOR AND DO OLD SCHOOL FIGURING. IF U TAKE 2 DAYS OFF A WEEK U SHOULD NEVER RUN OUT OF HRS ANYWAY.

  6. 6. Ed [ July 31, 2014 @ 08:45AM ]

    It's funny that Mrs. Ferro would talk about common sense, she isn't using any for this restart provision. Common sense tells you that if you have drivers who are constantly driving between midnight and noon that making them take that time off to sleep, when they are used to driving at that time, is forcing their bodies to do something different. I have worked shift work and it took my body 7 to 10 days to adjust to my new schedule every time I changed to a new work hours. So telling drivers that they have to change their schedules every week to account for the 1-5 a.m. doesn't make a lick of sense. Then holding a driver to only one restart per week doesn't make sense either, we are telling drivers that we want you to rest but don't rest too much. Let us just go to any 34 hours off is a reset. Some drivers take 34 hours off and don't rest at all. Those who don't care about the well being of others will do what they want and won't care about the consequences. Those who cheat on logs will always cheat on logs and drive recklessly no matter what the rules are.

  7. 7. Katie@HBI [ July 31, 2014 @ 01:01PM ]

    This law never should have passed in the first place since there was not proper studies done. But constantly changing and going back and forth isn't safe either.... I completely agree with everyone that said look at the crash rate over the past year, you can't tell me there have been less. It seems that every news segment I watch has a serious accident involving a semi and I am fully convinced it is because these regulations force drivers to drive in more frequented traffic during the day, when they would otherwise stay off the road until a later time.

  8. 8. Dave Wise [ July 31, 2014 @ 01:20PM ]

    Anne Ferro says "common sense". Everything about these new rules flies in the face of common sense. Put a driver on the clock and you can expect them to push through when they need a nap, don't slow down for constuction don't take a break. Common sense to me is give a little flexibility and let the driver make smarter choices. You want safer roads? Require better training that's real common sense.

  9. 9. Bart [ July 31, 2014 @ 01:43PM ]

    I am one of those awful dispatchers drivers speak of. I see the rules from a different perspective. Do the politicians realize that a driver can work 7 days a week and never take a restart? Do they realize that if a driver is off for 3, 4, or 5 days that they can not restart while another driver is out there running 7 days a week? Where is the common sense in that? Very easy fix. One 34 hour restart every 7 days OR 48 hrs off with the same 1 am & 5 am rule. There should be an exemption for the 1 and 5 rule for night shift drivers. I worked for companies that pushed drivers out at exactly 34 hrs - that is why I like the 1 and 5 rule.

  10. 10. Dusty Fournier [ July 31, 2014 @ 09:02PM ]

    Your an idiot the 1to 5 rule puts drivers at a higher risk of a crash because ur dealing with the morning rush hr traffic.the 34 hr reset is crap to .it might take you 48 hrs to get a reset when u only need a day and a half .wheres the profit at ? Oh I'm sorry the big company's have it screw the little man who's trying to make it!!!the FMCSA needs somebody who knows what the hell is going on not one who thinks they know .do everybody a favor go back to the old rules 10and8 with the old reset rules everybody will be happy!!!

  11. 11. Antinomian [ August 01, 2014 @ 03:22AM ]

    Just abolish the 70 hour rule. Problem solved.

  12. 12. someonewhocares [ August 01, 2014 @ 03:54AM ]

    I know drivers who have gone 2 weeks without taking a 34 hour reset, it is called recap hours. One problem and this is only one, you want drivers to sit for two 1 to 5's but parking for truckers sucks. There is not enough parking. Some states say no overnight parking in their rest areas, if the truck stops are full where are they supposed to park. You got drivers parking on exit and entrance ramps, sides of the road. This country is not truck parking friendly. Most times if you start driving early in the morning, if you are not parked by 6 or 7 p.m. everything is full. Not to mention there are some truckers out there that park in non parking spots not caring if they are blocking another trucker in. I do agree truckers need to sleep and not drive for days straight, bit if they are a person that likes to drive at night you are forcing them with the 1 to 5 to drive during the day.

  13. 13. me [ August 01, 2014 @ 04:27AM ]

    I run team. They 34 hour provisions are absolutely slaughtering us. We both are forced to do the the 1 to 5 am and that ends up with both of us sleeping and awake at the same time by the time the reset is complete. All this does is cause us to be more tired, where is the safety in that?

  14. 14. Michael [ August 01, 2014 @ 05:14AM ]

    All our six-day night shift drivers have been screwed for an entire year now. Dispatch can never remember we have to get off by 01:00 on our short night, because of this retarded rule that never considered full-time night shift people. Dispatch always says "Just run what I gave you, and run off your hours." OK, that's great, but now I'm only going to have 8 hours Tuesday, and 10 hours Wednesday, so don't schedule me over that. Then they schedule me over that, without fail, and start cussing when I have to get them to pull this and switch that. The 1 to 5 thing is a FUSTER CLUCK.

    I run night shift, I stay on night shift on weekends, and even on my vacations. I hit my stride at 01:00. That's when I'm at my peak level of alertness and ready to hammer down, after I've finally gotten good and woken up.

  15. 15. mike [ August 01, 2014 @ 05:57AM ]

    First get rid of the 30 minute break, most truckers will take a break anyway for a meal (unless you are one of those asphalt cowboys that seem your main friend is speed). Second is to keep the 34 hour restart but get rid of the provision that you have to make sure that in it includes two consecutive periods of sitting from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. If you are off for 34 hours then those times are not necessary. It should not matter whether a driver has more than 1 restart in a week, that time may be because of repairs to the truck or illness to the driver. And lastly, let the trucking community (truckers) be the one that votes on what we know is good for us instead of some people who have only seen the inside of a rig in movies and never drove one in their lives.

  16. 16. Rented Mule [ August 01, 2014 @ 07:05AM ]

    Spend the money more responsibly, live within your means. Raising taxes is a terrible idea and not the solution for every budget shortfall.

  17. 17. Rented Mule [ August 01, 2014 @ 07:07AM ]

    Above comment was for highway budget ppassing.

  18. 18. Hardball [ August 01, 2014 @ 07:27AM ]

    After 35 yrs in trucking most of the ruling and studies are just theory of what some thinks might work to make things work in an industry that had procedures in place,

  19. 19. James [ August 01, 2014 @ 09:08AM ]

    I would like to know how exactly they come up with this nice round "Saved 400 Lives" statistic. There is not one method of modeling that can with such accuracy come up with that figure. I suspect there is about a 90% error factor built in so the actual number significantly less than this blanket statistic. These statistics when thrown out for dissemination are at the high end of probability and are termed "Impact Statistics" and have firm basis in reality.

  20. 20. Mrstayready [ August 01, 2014 @ 09:49AM ]

    I say go back to the way it was on the 34.anybody that sit for 34hrs at home or a truckstop they have had plenty of rest. So with that being said let us go back to the 34hr restart anytime...

  21. 21. Fuckdot [ August 01, 2014 @ 11:16AM ]

    I was home for 4 days last month and started driving with only 30 on my 70 because I had to do a restart just before I went home to be able to get home. So the dumb fucking government can kiss my ass on the provision.

  22. 22. rooster [ August 01, 2014 @ 07:52PM ]

    I have no problem with the two time frames 1am to 5am,,.. but I should be able to do a reset at any time I see fit. if I take two in one week so what as long as I never go over 70hr in a one week time frame. and why would I or any driver want too

  23. 23. Karen [ August 02, 2014 @ 01:08AM ]

    Only the government would tell us that we are taking too much time off (only 1 reset per week) to be safe.

    I'm going to play devils advocate here and say how come we are only being regulated with one 30 min break? Office workers, factory workers, retail people not only have a 30 min lunch but the govt also says they are required to have two 15 min breaks every 4 hrs as well. I guess we'll count ourselves lucky that it is only 1 break that we are being forced to take.

    I also want to know who is regulating the REST of the drivers out there? How many Drs, Pilots, emergency workers, and others who routinely work 10-12 hr shifts, have finished their work and now are behind the wheel? Where are the numbers about how many of them have been in accidents? How many of them have caused the accidents involving a semi? Did we make sure they all got proper rest before getting behind the wheel of a dangerous, potentially lethal machine?
    Hmmmm......

  24. 24. Clifford Downing [ August 02, 2014 @ 07:58AM ]

    If there were any area that would make the most difference to target, it would be the lack of split sleeper provision like we used to have. Worked quite well even when we didn't have the 34 restart provision we have now. It would allow the greatest level of flexibility, even with any e-log mandates around the corner. We should just ditch the 34 restart altogether and restore the split sleeper provision.

  25. 25. keith [ August 02, 2014 @ 03:48PM ]

    I agree with a lot of you. We don't need the government telling us when we need rest. What we need is the government telling these companies that they need to pay more, and share profits with there employees. Then we wouldn't have to drive as long to make money for a our families. Those companies and the government agencies that shut us down for this and that keep getting richer and we keep getting poorer. I say pay us more, and we wouldn't have all these problems. Now I know they are still some of you that will drive whenever you want to, cause well that's just who you are. But I see the majority of us would drive legal if we could make decent money and not have to drive nonstop from point a to point b. And BTW this 11 hour drive time with a 30 min break really, you as a government thinks this is safe???? You make me drive non stop for 10 and half hours or 5 hours then another 5 and half but yet you sit there in Washington and have no idea of what it is like to be out here on the road, but want to tell me when I'm tired or not, or need rest or I'm ok to drive. I say you do government work, and leave the driving to us, the professionals that you so call us, but don't pay us as such.

  26. 26. Itscomical [ August 03, 2014 @ 09:59PM ]

    The real reason they need all this regulation is because of all the foreniors that they the government have issued CDLs to that don't understand trucking. So we that do understand get punished with all this bullshit

  27. 27. Lee Lenard [ August 04, 2014 @ 06:28PM ]

    Some great great comments above. BART-is looking @ limited view with situation application. Needs to look @ big picture for all situations & all drivers in relation to the rules. DUSTY-so so correct. 1-5 AM increases morning trucks, more morning accidents, delayed deliveries and "lost $ for the drivers" MICHAEL & MIKE --if only those in FMCSA could read and UNDERSTAND what you both wrote --good summary and correct! ITSCOMICAL - You R Correct ... JAMES, I have searched, read everything available to me, YES, I think these numbers came out of a cloud.....Immediately after the July 1 2013 mandate truck wrecks really skyrocketed especially in the areas I drive. In the 225 driver domicile I work out of the company is in a panic because of a 300% increase in accidents over the past year...not all just the RESTART but also EOBC and the combined effects. Drivers always rushing, taking chances, driving to fast, taking short cuts just to try and make it off the computer before 1 AM to get the restart and to beat the 8 hr 30 min break rule & be somewhere that food, restrooms etc are available and where a truck can be parked. Yes so many states have closed REST AREAS that it really becomes difficult and dangerous to us the drivers and to the public when we have to park along side the road.

  28. 28. Brett [ August 13, 2014 @ 10:38AM ]

    Telling people to sleep when traffic is lightest and then drive in rush hour, is the kind of ridiculous idea you would get from a female government official! Just cause she works 9 to 5 and has a limo driver to commute her to work. Allowing only one 34- hour restart is ridiculous...either we are rested or we are not...why only once? she doesn't get the fact that we drive across country and then back to our homes...the way she has it now means I have to take 2 days off..4 hours from my house...I am not allowed to go home and sleep in my bed? Right..this is why we have to cheat on our log books...you cannot make one size fits all rules...we do not all do the same job!

  29. 29. Richard Crawford [ August 13, 2014 @ 12:52PM ]

    My problem with the current restart rule is that it requires drivers, that normally drive only at night to sleep the 2 1-5AM periods. In order to do that the driver has to alter his normal sleep cycle, then change it back once he's completed the restart. Simply put this driver has lost sleep changing his normal sleep routine

 

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