New final rule from FMCSA officially removes suspended HOS restart provisions from Code of Federal Regulations
Washington — Commercial motor vehicle drivers are no longer officially required to take a weekly break of at least 34 consecutive hours, including two breaks between 1 and 5 a.m., to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hours-of-service regulations, under a new final rule.
Published in the Sept. 12 Federal Register and effective immediately, the final rule formally withdraws the provisions from the Code of Federal Regulations after Congress suspended them in December 2014 pending further research into their safety ramifications.
A March 2017 study conducted by the Department of Transportation determined that the mandated overnight breaks neither improved safety nor reduced driver fatigue. FMCSA announced shortly after the study’s release that the restart regulations would not go back in effect. Still, the provisions remained in the CFR until the final rule was enacted.
In the Federal Register notice, FMCSA indicates the changes are intended to eliminate “confusion for stakeholders” and “will have no adverse effect on safety.”
Implemented in 2013, the original restart regulations aimed to combat fatigued driving, particularly at night. However, critics led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) argued that the rule could potentially trigger an increase in crashes by requiring too many CMV drivers to begin their shifts during the morning rush hour.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association praised the final rule.
“These provisions were not based on any sound research and did not provide any safety benefits when they were in effect,” OOIDA Director of Federal Affairs Jay Grimes said in an article published Sept. 11 in OOIDA’s Land Line magazine. “Although the restrictive restart rules were eventually suspended and have not been enforced for some time, we are glad that they will be finally removed from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations.”