Transportation Trucking Federal agencies Hours of service

FMCSA scraps requirement for overnight rest breaks for CMV drivers

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Photo: STEFANOLUNARDI/iStockphoto

Washington – Commercial motor vehicle drivers officially can say goodnight to 34-hour restart provisions requiring a pair of early morning rest breaks.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced March 9 that its 2013 restart regulations, which have been suspended since 2014, will not go back into effect. As part of the now-defunct rules, FMCSA required drivers to take a 34-hour break once per week that included two stints between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

The rule was intended in large part to prevent fatigued driving during overnight hours. However, a recent study from the Department of Transportation determined that mandated overnight breaks did nothing to improve safety or reduce driver fatigue. Critics had argued that requiring CMV drivers to take breaks overnight forced too many trucks onto crowded roads during the morning rush hour. Congress suspended the rules in 2014 pending further research into their safety ramifications.

DOT’s Office of Inspector General supported the study’s findings in a letter sent March 2 to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and members of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. The study compared work schedules and analyzed driver fatigue among two groups of CMV drivers – one group that adhered to the 2013 regulations and another group that followed the older, less restrictive rules. The 2013 regulations did not improve safety, DOT OIG stated.

“The requirement for two off-duty periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. in section 395.3(c) of the agency’s hours-of-service rules will not be enforced, nor will the once-per-week limit on use of the restart in 395.3(d),” FMCSA stated.

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