Fleet Management

Senate Panel Votes to Suspend Hours of Service Restart Pending Study

June 05, 2014

By Oliver Patton

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UPDATED -- The Senate Appropriations Committee voted by a wide margin to suspend the current 34-hour restart provision of the hours of service rule while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration studies the impact of the rule.

The suspension would start after the bill is passed and FMCSA posts public notice, and last until September 30, 2015, or when FMCSA finishes the study. Photo by Jim Park
The suspension would start after the bill is passed and FMCSA posts public notice, and last until September 30, 2015, or when FMCSA finishes the study. Photo by Jim Park

The committee voted 21- 9 in favor of an amendment offered by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who said “it has become clear that the rules have had unintended consequences that are not in best interest of carriers, shippers and the public.”

The amendment is attached to a Senate bill appropriating transportation funds for fiscal year 2015.  It says that FMCSA funding will not include money to enforce the restart rule that took effect last June as part of the new hours of service rules.

In effect, the amendment would suspend the two-night rest requirement and the once-a-week limitation on the restart.

The suspension would start after the bill is passed and FMCSA posts public notice, and last until September 30, 2015, or when FMCSA finishes the study.

During that time, the old restart provision would be in effect. That provision does not contain the requirement that drivers be off between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. on two successive nights during their restart, and the restriction limiting use of the restart to once a week.

The study must compare the work schedules and fatigue of two groups of drivers: those operating under the pre-2013 provision, and those operating under the new provision.

The groups would have to be large enough to produce statistically significant results.

The study also must compare five months of work schedules and safety critical events, such as crashes and near-crashes, for fleets of all sizes and types of operations. The language specifically mentions long-haul, regional and short-haul, flat-bed, refrigerated, tank and dry-van.

Researchers would track fatigue and safety-critical events using electronic logging data, a psychomotor vigilance test that gauges the impact of fatigue on a person’s reactions, actigraph watches and cameras or other onboard monitoring systems.

The amendment says researchers would use data from electronic logging devices that comply with the mandate pending at FMCSA. The mandate, which spells out the technical requirements for the devices, is due later this year.

The amendment also says that the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General must review the research plan before FMCSA starts work on it. Specifically, the IG must agree that there are enough drivers in the study and that the technologies the researchers will use are reliable.

The amendment is a long way from being a done deal.

It must clear the full Senate and then be reconciled with whatever the House does on appropriations, leaving plenty of opportunities for opponents to seek changes.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., chair of the Appropriations Committee, said she expects the bill to go to the Senate floor June 16.

The amendment represents a compromise. Collins said some members of the committee wanted a full repeal of the restart, a position she opposed, and she worked closely with Sen. Patty Murray to craft the details of the study.

In the end, the amendment blends competing proposals by various industry groups.

American Trucking Associations originally wanted the committee to suspend the restart while the Government Accountability Office finishes its ongoing study of the provision.

The Trucking Alliance, safety advocacy groups and the Teamsters proposed that the current restart rule remain in place while FMCSA conducts the study.

Then ATA, joined by numerous shipper groups and state trucking associations, agreed to the FMCSA study but held fast to suspension of the new restart.

The suspension elicited considerable discussion at the Appropriations Committee markup hearing Thursday morning.

Collins said the restart needs to be suspended because it is forcing more trucks on the road during morning rush hour. FMCSA did not consider the safety impact of that when it wrote the rule, she said.

On Tuesday FMCSA chief Anne Ferro told members of the Senate Commerce Committee the agency had determined that the safety impact of added trucks on the road is incremental and outweighed by the benefits of drivers having more nighttime sleep.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., opposed Collins’s amendment. She said she supports the study but believes the new restart should remain in place.

Murray was joined by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Mikulski, who said they would prefer to keep the restart intact while the study proceeds.

Speaking for the amendment were Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Mary Landrieu, D-La., Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Mark Begich, D-Ark.

ATA applauded the vote.

“Since these rules were proposed in 2010, ATA has maintained that they were unsupported by science and since they were implemented in 2013 the industry and economy have experienced substantial negative effects as a result,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves in a statement.

“Today, thanks to Senator Collins’ leadership, we are a step closer to reversing these damaging, unjustified regulations.”

Lane Kidd, managing director of the Trucking Alliance, said that while the Alliance opposes suspension of the restart it applauds Collins for working with Murray on the study.

"And you’ll see in the overall appropriations bill that should be public tomorrow (Friday) that there is an accelerated schedule for releasing the new ELDs into the marketplace and it will be those new ELDs that will be used in the study," Kidd said. "The data generated by those ELDs will show everyone once and for all what the hours-of-service rule should be."

FMCSA opposed the suspension but supports the study.

"It’s important that we continue studying the impact of fatigue on commercial drivers and public safety to make our regulations even more effective. But this we know right now: suspending the current Hours-of-Service safety rules will expose families and drivers to greater risk every time they're on the road," said Ferro in a recent blog post.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx underscored the point.

"Fatigue has long been recognized as a factor in crashes," he said in a statement. "It's why we recently revised the hours for truck drivers, where fatigue is still a leading factor in the 300,000 crashes that occur each year."

"(DOT and FMCSA) conducted unprecedented levels of research, including public input and the largest real-world study of its kind in developing a rule that protects everyone on the road, including truck drivers themselves." Foxx said.

"We are deeply concerned that Congress is considering even a temporary reversion to a system that allows drivers to log an average of up to 82 hours per week while the current rule limits the average to 70 hours a week."

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association thanked Collins and the Senators who voted for the suspension.

"Truckers have long pointed out the negative impacts of the 2013 changes on their ability to get rest, stay out of busy city traffic, spend time at home, and make a family-supporting income," said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.

The amendment is attached to a bill that appropriates $71.1 billion for DOT in 2015. That’s $536 million more than DOT got in fiscal year 2014, but $17.8 billion less than the Obama budget requested.

It includes $550 million in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants, a $50 million cut from this year. It also proposes $40.3 billion for federal-aid highways, the same as this year.

Revised late Thursday to include a statement from Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Comments

  1. 1. Laughlin [ June 06, 2014 @ 04:46AM ]

    Now if they would give drivers the option of splitting off-duty/sleeper berth time into segments, the primary one being a minimum of 6 hours, long haul truckers would actually have the flexibility to be able to stop and sleep/nap anytime day or night WHENEVER they are sleepy without sacrificing their available work hours. This would help encourage drivers to sleep when they NEED to. As the CDL handbook says...sleep is the only way to cure fatigue.

  2. 2. Brian Loysen [ June 06, 2014 @ 05:11AM ]

    Excellent news on the re-start. The 34hr rule is great the way it was...if they want to restrict it to once a week thats fine BUT if a driver has a breakdown and is down for a period of 48hrs he should be allowed to restart his clock. Commercial drivers need FLEXIBILITY in their driving to adjust to the thousands of forces working against them daily.
    Laughlin above is very correct...split sleeper/off time flexibility is the safest way for the entire country. Hopefully EOBR's will allow for that legislation to make a comeback but until then a 5/5 mandate for split sleeper would make this industry even safer.

  3. 3. Steve [ June 06, 2014 @ 05:39AM ]

    When will the people in government learn that we are Human and not Machines. Most people know their own system better than the Special Interest Groups and Government people that are swayed by these people. The pressure on and to drivers just makes the problem worse as they are always trying to PLEASE 10 Different People at the same time. And the E Log Will not make it any better. Why Can't they to look at the BIG PICTURE before Forcing this Crap on the Industry.

  4. 4. Bill Hood [ June 06, 2014 @ 06:42AM ]

    Not misunderstand what this is. It doesn't change anything. Just that it got was attached to a funding bill coming out of committee. It will still need to pass the Senate, need to get included and passed in the house version and then make it through the final, combined version. This is a symbolic victory at best.

  5. 5. Andres O. Tamayo [ June 06, 2014 @ 06:54AM ]

    Good Deal, 1 Win for THE REAL WORLD OF TRANSPORTATION. NOT ONE PERSON SHOULD BE ALLOW TO WRITE RULES AND REGULATIONS IN THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY, UNLESS THEY GET INSIDE ONE OF OUR TRUCKS AND RIDE WITH A SEASON VETERAN FOR A MONTH, AND SEE THE REAL LIVE AND STUFF THAT WE PUT UP WITH OUT HERE IN THE ROAD. IT SHOLD BE A REQUIREMENT FOR THE ONES THAT WRITE THESE RULES AND REGULATIONS.

  6. 6. Bruce Cline [ June 06, 2014 @ 08:22AM ]

    If it's safety you really won't then make a quick common sense approach that a 10 year old kid could understand and let us take a break when we need to without it counting against our 11 hour driving period in 24 hours. They have took every decision completely away from the individual driving the truck with a one rule for all NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. Let's us work and give us the opportunity to rest if we need rest instead of forcing us to DRIVE with a one rule for all. We have to be able to stop when we need to people. Just make it that simple and save all the money being spend on BS studies. Let us REST WITHOUT PENALTY. Please. Again simple, give us a volunteer rest period during our driving time based on the drivers decision. Now if I'm tired and I got 4 hours left to drive, wouldn't it be a ton safer if I could lay down two or three hours the. go ahead with my 4 hours even if I still had to take a ten hour break at the end of my of my 4 hours. If it was safety they are worried about then this should be the first change on the list. Period.

  7. 7. Tim laskowski [ June 06, 2014 @ 04:43PM ]

    Thank you Bruce cline you said every thing I have been pleading for sense the HOS have been tampered with.I only hope that they will under stand is the famous F word, FLEXABILITY. Even a children know when to nap.

  8. 8. Lee Lenard [ June 08, 2014 @ 09:32PM ]

    The July 1 2013 mandate was never - NEVER - about public safety, shippers, or the best health and safety of drivers....IT was ONLY political payback for a small group of drivers and advocates that wanted the government to force their employers to give them pay raises and a 4 day work week....the FMCSA did for them what they should have been negotiating with their employers....At least we have a "few" Senators that have the common sense to listen to the trucking management, over the road drivers, night time delivery drivers and those of us that lost thousands of $ per year due to this stupid rule....say thanks to them!

  9. 9. John B [ June 10, 2014 @ 04:09AM ]

    When I heard that Anne Ferro was doing a ride a long with an OOIDA member, I thought maybe she would see what we deal with. Of course it was a bunch of crap and didn't involve sitting waiting in the California valley all day for a produce load and then running across the Country only to sit on the other end waiting to get unloaded. She would have clearly seen we need FLEXIBILITY! You can't make the body sleep on demand and we ALL know that!

  10. 10. Trucker Josh [ June 11, 2014 @ 10:49AM ]

    Stop wasting money into "studies" and listen to the people! This one reset per week has GOT TO GO! Who cares how many times I reset my logs in a week??? More rest the better! I need flexibility! Leave the decision of when to rest up to the driver! Look at Canada for help in HOS. Up there its 13 hours of driving in a 16 hour Window. 70 hours in 7 days not 8. 36 hour reset and you can do said reset whenever you want and as many times a week as you want. Stop trying to turn us into robots in the USA. Freedom! LET US WORK! Stop "studying" and start listening

  11. 11. April b [ June 20, 2014 @ 05:41AM ]

    I think Congress has this one wrong. I'm a driver and if it weren't for the provision the company I work for would drive me into the ground. I live otr for four consecutive weeks and they feel I should drive every hour of that time. The rule allowed me some relief from their notions that drivers don't need any more than 10 hrs of rest. Cumulative fatigue is the result. Companies, shippers, and manufacturers benefit the most from this..not the driver. "Eliminates more trucks from being in rush hour traffic...please. I hope this repeal takes forever to final.

  12. 12. mike [ June 29, 2014 @ 08:18AM ]

    How can anne faro,Say drivers r geeting more night time sleep,Thes elogs r running drivers to death,Havent seen a driver yet with elog that wasn,t running agas,nt clock all day long,Allways in hurry,That,s not safe,thats how accendts happen,She needs to take a truck ride for two weeks on the road not two days,And in a regular truck,Not big large car,

  13. 13. Demetrius Harrell [ June 29, 2014 @ 12:19PM ]

    What this 2013 rule did, and in a lot of cases even the old rules, is make drivers have to drive even more fatigued due to the fact that they cannot rest when they want. I have been on the road plenty of times and had that 2pm sleepiness hit me and WISH i could hit the rest stop and sleep for a few hours. The hours of service does not let you do that. You lose all of that time you slept off of the 14 hour clock and that can literally set you back a day once you include the mandatory 10 hour rest. So what do I do?? I keep driving sleepy as s**t so that I do not possibly lose a day because I can not stop and sleep. And what ON EARTH is the point of 1 restart a week??? Rest is Rest if I took 2 restarts off, that is 68 hours of rest out of the 168 hours possible in 7 days. then there will still be 10 hour rest periods in the remaining 100 hours. WHAT MORONS ARE WRITING THESE LAWS???

  14. 14. Demetrius Harrell [ June 29, 2014 @ 12:19PM ]

    What this 2013 rule did, and in a lot of cases even the old rules, is make drivers have to drive even more fatigued due to the fact that they cannot rest when they want. I have been on the road plenty of times and had that 2pm sleepiness hit me and WISH i could hit the rest stop and sleep for a few hours. The hours of service does not let you do that. You lose all of that time you slept off of the 14 hour clock and that can literally set you back a day once you include the mandatory 10 hour rest. So what do I do?? I keep driving sleepy as s**t so that I do not possibly lose a day because I can not stop and sleep. And what ON EARTH is the point of 1 restart a week??? Rest is Rest if I took 2 restarts off, that is 68 hours of rest out of the 168 hours possible in 7 days. then there will still be 10 hour rest periods in the remaining 100 hours. WHAT MORONS ARE WRITING THESE LAWS???

  15. 15. Demetrius Harrell [ June 29, 2014 @ 12:23PM ]

    Sorry for the re-posts, it kept telling me an error occured try again

  16. 16. Demetrius Harrell [ June 30, 2014 @ 07:01PM ]

    Sorry for the re-posts, it kept telling me an error occured try again

  17. 17. Garret A. Sudbring [ September 03, 2014 @ 04:47PM ]

    Crooks & theives making laws. Politicians bought & sold to the highest bidder. That's the problem!!!!! Just look what they have done to are country it's proof just how corrupt the Politicians really are. The New World Order is there main ajinda.

  18. 18. Garret A. Sudbring [ September 03, 2014 @ 04:51PM ]

    Sorry misspelling agenda

  19. 19. Gerald Barclay [ October 09, 2014 @ 09:10PM ]

    Should be mandatory for companies to pay drivers by the hour and not by the mile. Accidents and property damage would drop significantly. If that is really your agenda (public safety)

  20. 20. l.m. [ November 02, 2014 @ 06:31AM ]

    We need signs like the people that work on the roads that let them work them live truckers need one to say let them drive let them drive in peace they even know nothing about trucking but try to tell us something drivers we need to pull together they are separating us&people with diabetes&other medical issue can'tdrive no more in 2015 that's putting a lot of people out of work kids going

  21. 21. warren [ November 15, 2014 @ 01:43AM ]

    Truck Driver are treated like common criminals,there no constitutional rights that covers driver.revenue for local and federal agency are definatly rising.where is the public safety concerns when a big rig is being pulled over to be inspected on the side of the interstate,the whole trucking industry is flawed from the politions,the department of transportation,local authority,down to the new state laws govering medical cards.still the question is ask about a shortage of driver?who are we really kidding.our indusry isent even about working.the right to earn s descent living has once again been change by government who by the way was supposed to be for the people by the people.The trucking industry is weighted down by politics.Ann Ferro knew by design what she and the government was uptoo.only the drivers were hoodwink,devided and sadly to say conquered.every law that ann ferro got passed will have to be voted on and more tax dollars reinvested to undo the injustice done to what once was a descent occupation.

 

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