The driver rumor mill and some social media sites are telling drivers that the 34-hour restart has been suspended for one year. This is not the case.
Last week a Senate panel voted to suspend the changes to Hours of Service. But this Senate panel is just a committee. That means the decisions and opinions of the panel are not the law of the land.
What Needs to Happen to Change the 34-Hour Restart Rule
Here's what else needs to happen to change the federal transportation laws:
1. The U.S. Senate has to pass its transportation spending bill.
2. The U.S. House of Representatives has to pass its transportation spending bill
3. The House and Senate must compromise on the two bills. This means that elected representatives will take some elements from the Senate transportation bill and some elements from the House transportation bill (or maybe they'll come up with something totally different) and come up with a blended piece of proposed legislation on transportation.
4. The White House must review the combined bill. If the administration signs the bill, it becomes federal law. If the administration thinks there's more work to be done on the bill, the bill is vetoed and sent back to the Congress for more work. (Note that Congress can override a presidential veto if there are enough votes to do so from its members.)
Basically, this "suspension" of the 34-hour restart rule is happening at the very beginning of the lawmaking process. There's a lot more to come before it actually becomes law, if it even does.
What Likely Will Happen with the Transportation Law
So what does a transportation firm need to know right now about the 34-hour restart rule? There is a chance that this stay could be cut. But because this change is coming from a Senate committee, odds are that it will stay with the bill. (Don't forget, though, this legislation has to pass through a few more gates.)
There is a break for the feds in August. There is an election in November. October could be the earliest date for changes to transportation regs. As a longtime transportation industry guy, I think there's a good chance nothing will happen until 2015.
So until we pass that fourth step (approval from the White House), you've got to be compliant with the rules as they stand today. Pass the word.
Don Jerrell is associate vice president with HNI, an insurance and safety consulting company. Previously published in the HNI Steal These Ideas blog, used with permission.