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Trucking restart rule likely to be suspended and investigated for impact

Readers who have been following our blog know that we have previously written about the controversy in the trucking industry over the so-called “34-hour restart” rule. The rule is part of the federal hours-of-service regulations which have the overall goal of ensuring that truckers take adequate rest breaks so that they are free of fatigue while behind the wheel.

As we’ve previously noted, the 34-hour restart rule was passed in 2013 despite the objections of the trucking industry. Once the rule was passed, those objections had to do with the negative impact of the provision on production and the concern over whether the rule made highways any safer. After pushing to have the rule suspended, the industry received good news over the weekend when Congress passed a bill that would suspend the rule until its impact can be better studied. Though the bill still has to be signed to be official, President Obama has already expressed support for it. 

The bill requires that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conduct a study to determine the effects of the rule on highway safety, health and daily operations for trucking companies. If what the trucking industry says is true, the study should find that the measure has placed on it an extra burden which hasn’t significantly contributed to highway safety. We’ll have to wait and see, though, what they actually find.

Truck driver fatigue, of course, is a serious safety issue that needs to continue to be addressed in the prevention of trucking accidents.  Though the reform of the restart rule was an attempt to make further improvements in highway safety, the question has successfully been raise whether the reform was in the right direction. In studying the issue further, it is hoped that federal regulators will be able to come up with a clearer picture of the proper balance between regulation and independent judgment for the trucking industry.

Source: Overdrive Magazine, “34-hour restart rules to be suspended: Congress clears legislation to roll back 2013 provisions,” Todd Dills and James Jaillet, Dec. 14, 2014.

FMCSA, “Hours of Service,” Accessed Dec. 16, 2014. 

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