Congress suspends restart provision on trucker hours of service
UPDATE: This article was updated on Dec. 17 to indicate when President Barack Obama signed the budget bill.
Washington – Truckers no longer will be subject to a 34-hour restart provision that includes a pair of rest breaks between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Congress agreed to suspend the restart provision pending further research as part of a $1.1 trillion spending bill that was approved Dec. 13. The effort to suspend the provision was led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who said mandatory rest breaks ending at 5 a.m. could push too many trucks onto crowded roads during the early rush hour.
President Barack Obama signed the spending bill Dec. 16, making the suspension official. As part of the original provision implemented in 2013, truckers were required to take a weekly rest break that included 34 consecutive hours off, including two rest periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The rule intended to prevent fatigued driving, but trucking groups argued that the added regulation created more harm than good.
“Suspending these restrictions until all the proper research can be done is a reasonable step,” American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves said in a press release.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx did not hide his disappointment about the change. Foxx cited a recent study that indicated drivers with one night of recovery scored “significantly poorer” on safety assessments than drivers with two nights off.
“I am seriously concerned that this suspension will put lives at risk, as it will increase the maximum allowable work limits for truck drivers from an average of 70 hours per week to over 82,” Foxx said Dec. 4 in a letter to the House Appropriations Committee.