Senate committee weighs in on 34-hour restart provision for CMV drivers
Washington – A 34-hour restart provision that includes overnight rest breaks could once again be included in hours-of-service rules for commercial motor vehicle drivers, contingent on the results of a study being conducted by the Department of Transportation.
On April 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee clarified that DOT could restore the restart provision if the results of the study confirm the rule is effective. The restart provision was suspended to allow DOT time to analyze whether the rule promotes safety or creates inadvertent hazards during peak travel times. Committee members said the rule, if restored, would prohibit CMV drivers from being on duty for more than 73 hours in a seven-day period.
The original restart provision, which was implemented in 2013, called for CMV drivers to restart their hours of service every week by taking a 34-hour break that included two stints between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The rule was intended to combat fatigued driving, particularly at night.
However, critics argued that the rule forced too many CMV drivers to start their shifts during the morning rush hour, which could potentially lead to an increase in crashes.
Congress suspended the restart provision pending further research in December 2014. About one year later, language within separate legislation led to an interpretation by some stakeholders that the restart rule might be void regardless of DOT’s study findings. The Senate Appropriations Committee clarified that the rule could be restored.
As of press time, the full Senate had yet to vote on the committee’s clarification within the fiscal year 2017 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.