Fleet Management

After the Hours-of-Service Ruling: Research on 34-Hour Restart, Action on Capitol Hill

August 20, 2013

By Oliver Patton

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Even as a federal court was recently upholding most of the hours of service rules, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been working on a field study of the 34-hour restart that could influence that provision in the future, and there's a move on Capitol Hill to force the agency to return to the old rules.

Congress ordered the study in last year’s highway bill, at the insistence of the American Trucking Associations,, which said the agency should confirm in the field the finding from a laboratory study that daytime sleep is not as restorative as nighttime sleep.

That finding is the scientific basis for the requirement that a driver take two periods off between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during his 34-hour restart, and it figured prominently in the court’s decision to uphold the provision.

It remains to be seen if the data from the field study will be persuasive enough for the agency to reconsider its approach to the restart.

Data collection for the study was finished in July and the final report is expected later this year, said agency spokesperson Marissa Padilla.

Meanwhile, there is a move in the House of Representatives to cut off funding for implementation or enforcement of the new hours and return to the old rule.

An attempt by Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., and several others to attach the amendment to transportation funding legislation failed when House leaders withdrew the bill.

But Hanna will pursue the amendment, said Renee Gamela, his communications director.

“He’s been discussing the amendment with colleagues and we’re confident it would have strong, bipartisan support when it comes up,” Gamela said.

The amendment is supported by 16 trucking and shipping interests, including ATA, OOIDA and UPS, as well as the Transportation Intermediaries Association, the National Retail Federation and the National Grocers Association.

Hanna, joined by Reps. Tom Rice, R-S.C., Trey Radel, R-Fla., and Todd Rokita, R-Ind., said in a Dear Colleague letter that the new rule decreases driver flexibility and raises costs – complaints that have been aired by all of the industry interests.


  1. 1. Robert Holmes [ August 21, 2013 @ 04:10AM ]

    I guess I understand the 1-5 am rule, but why only once a week? If 34 hrs. is so restorative, then 1 every 3-4 days should be better, In my situation its not uncommon to spend24-36 hrs. (sometimes more) waiting for dispatch/tank prep/lab approval/delivery times and instructions to all line up. I don't see why that doesn't count if it's only been 50 hrs. since my last reset.

  2. 2. Rick Harrell [ August 21, 2013 @ 05:55AM ]

    Mr. Holmes is absolutely correct. The 168 hour requirement is the most onerous and the most perplexing part of the rule. The old 34 hour rule was good for drivers and good for safety.

  3. 3. Shawn Knox [ August 21, 2013 @ 07:52AM ]

    I am a 4th generation trucker who recently made the decision to get out. With all these rules either proposed or being looked at I am getting tired of having to jump through hoops and wonder if some rule that doesn't make sense is going to cost me my job. One of the more dangerous rules on the horizon other than the current HOS rule is the sleep apnea studies that the FMCSA has been looking into. No driver I know wants to be on the road with a sleepy or inattentive driver. When you are only talking roughly 4000 accidents a year that are linked to tired drivers, of which a small fraction of those were probably caused by sleep apnea its really starting to look like the FMCSA has nothing better to then to nitpick. How many 4 wheelers climb behind the wheel after spending 12 hours at work or have questionable sleep patterns? You can cause a whole lotta death with an SUV just as much as with any truck. As far as the HOS rules go I was running team. When I was forced to stay up when I would normally be sleeping that was the straw for me. It made me more tired because it changed my sleeping pattern. I would gladly come back to trucking but only after some rules get passed that make sense. This industry can’t keep affording losing good drivers to untrained rookies who don’t make the cut.

  4. 4. Jeff Smith [ August 21, 2013 @ 07:56AM ]

    I would like to add in that the new rules take into consideration an individuals circadian rhythm. Overnight and long haul truck drivers do not have the normal rhythm that the majority of people have. They are used to being up all night driving and sleeping in the daytime, something a normal individual would have great difficulty doing. The 1-5 am and 168 hour requirements should be dropped.

  5. 5. Jim Jordan [ August 21, 2013 @ 08:16AM ]

    There are many jobs done at night, and most 'graveyard shift'' workers know the limitations of daytime sleep. However, trucking at night is generally safer than driving in daylight in heavier traffic, particularly on either coast. How does FMCSA deal with that in any study?

  6. 6. Shawn Knox [ August 21, 2013 @ 08:32AM ]

    The FMCSA doesn't deal with it. You have a whole lot of trucks camped out on the weekends now at overcrowded truck stops that don't have enough parking in them trying to do the reset and then come 5am Monday morning everyone tries to hit the road at once and mixes in with the traffic for the morning rush hour. This is making it more unsafe right there. Something has got to give and it has to give soon rather than later. I'm all for safety but some of these rules are starting to become pretty stupid if you ask me.

  7. 7. Ken Taylor [ August 21, 2013 @ 10:22AM ]

    I am ok with the new 1 to 5 restart rule and even the 30 minute rule I can live with, but I think the 168 hour rule is so unfair and accomplishes nothing. The old rule was good enough.
    Now, in some cases, drivers are forced to roll their hours daily without getting a valid restart which in turn has them running well over 70 hours.

  8. 8. Robert Edwards [ August 22, 2013 @ 07:38AM ]

    I don't think it's smart to drive between 12-6 AM. I always try to set up my loads so I am not driving in those hours. Sleep is a big problem for many reasons: noise, too hot, too cold. The industry is over regulated. More focus needs to be on the average driver(4 wheeler). I believe we could make it much harder(test, education) before people get their drivers license. I think we could make the fines, penalties very stiff for people who are guilty of serious log violations.

  9. 9. Joel Kugler [ August 22, 2013 @ 08:12PM ]

    I have 5 mil miles plus and as stated before driving at night is safer, I spent a large percent driving at night . Also there is not room to park every truck at night , and as Shawn said all the extra trucks on the road during the day is very dangerous. I am 70 yrs. young, in very good health, have spent a very large portion of the last 40 yrs. sleeping during the daytime hrs. We are loosing the good drivers due to all these rules that do not work, new drivers cause more accidents, it is not their fault, but experience is much safer. A very smart man told me many year ago there are truckers and there are drivers, which one do you want to share the road with?

  10. 10. VB Kerth [ August 23, 2013 @ 08:48AM ]

    If y'all are this upset now - just wait - till next year!
    In 2014 the EOBR(Electronic On Board Recorder) for Electronic Logs will become mandatory for everybody traveling interstate.

  11. 11. Leigh Cromleigh [ August 23, 2013 @ 08:59AM ]

    It is clear that the so called experts who are making these proposals and rules don't even know what a truck is. They seem to be under the misconception that all humans must operate from 8 to 5 during daylight hours. Until you work the same jobs you are trying to regulate, you cannot understand what it takes to move freight from supplier to market and operate a trucking company.

    Let the people who work in the industry help formulate the proposals with you, governement, in order to make rules that mean something. Always remember..........."One Size Does Not Fit All"!!! We will help you make the correct decisions regarding the types of rules needed for the trucking industry.

  12. 12. Vince Mortensen trucking [ August 24, 2013 @ 07:44AM ]

    We strive to keep our country afloat and they keep throwing torpedoes at us

  13. 13. Gilbert Garcia [ August 24, 2013 @ 07:54AM ]

    In regards to the new 70 hour restart, how horrible isthis rule. So many times it has happened and continues to happen where for some reason or another the load doesn't make it or is missing a pallet. If you pick up at border towns you know what I'm talking about. I have been stuck for 34 hours so many times I can't count them. But yet now I can't re start untill the seventh day. And why is the FMCSA conducting their own study all by them selves? Hmmm what do you all think the answer will be? Kinda like the police whatching over them selves? I think there should always be a indipendent third party involved.

  14. 14. craig [ August 24, 2013 @ 10:38PM ]

    I totally agree with all of you, I think we should be able to do 34 hr restart when we want. there are times were I have done three in one week either because the truck was in the shop or they didn't have a load for me. federal government needs to keep there nose out are business and let us do our jobs

  15. 15. former driver [ August 25, 2013 @ 12:57PM ]

    All of you are missing the big picture. Government is looking for control - not for safety. Based on comments I have read, Gov't has already accomplished making all of you think inside of their box. Gov't wants to place a limitation on how much you can work and therefore how much you can earn. It will get worse as additional controls are put in place. Without forcing rates much higher to afford to deal with all of this, the industry will no longer have the high paying jobs that it once provided for our country. Best wishes.

  16. 16. B. Lopez. [ August 29, 2013 @ 12:59PM ]

    I agree with you all. What about your families, your wives, your kids, instead of being more time or getting back sooner at home you must expend your hours in a truck stop if you are lucky to find a space. or just in a unsafe place.

  17. 17. Keith K [ September 01, 2013 @ 09:50AM ]

    I've been around this industry since the 60's. The sacrifices made by our families, friends and us were rewarded financially. Through the years our financial gains have diminished substantially due to government involvement. Transportation is the only industry that the government dictates how much money we can make. They control this by labeling it "safety". Ask yourselves, what is more safe, an e.r. doctor operating on someone after being on duty for 36 hors straight, or a driver driving after 12 hours on duty? People disassociate themselves from the people when they become employed by goverment. They become part of the government and in order to justify their job, not knowing a thing about this industry, they have to make more rules. This absolute control is what's controling our finances. In what other industry are you not allowed to work harder and make more money? At what point did we allow the government to dictate to us how much money we can make? Everytime the government sticks it's nose into something, they screw it up. Are we as a society going to continue to allow the government to assume powers that they were never granted? Is this the generation that has next George Washington that will put the government in check? Will I live long enough to see liberation....? I think not, but do hope so!


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