Leading executives of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) late Thursday applauded the Senate Appropriations Committee for voting to suspend the current 34-hour restart provision of the hours of service regulations.
In a 21-9 vote, the committee adopted an amendment that would suspend government restrictions on the hours truckers are allowed to be behind the wheel. The measure would block a portion of the hours of service regulations that mandate truck drivers take a 34-hour break from driving before starting a new 60-hour workweek.
Under current restrictions, that 34-hour break has to include the hours between 1 and 5 a.m. on two consecutive nights — something the amendment authors termed unwieldy because it forces truckers off the highways during the lightest hours of traffic.
In order to become law, both houses of Congress must pass transportation spending bills and then reach a compromise on those bills. The White House must review the combined bill and either sign it or send it back for more work.
In the solution proposed Thursday by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), that restart provision would be lifted and the Department of Transportation would have to investigate what effects easing the restart regulations would have on the safety of drivers and the public.
“Since these rules were proposed in 2010, ATA has maintained that they were unsupported by science, and since they were implemented in 2013, the industry and economy have experienced substantial negative effects as a result,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “Today, thanks to Senator Collins’ leadership, we are a step closer to reversing these damaging, unjustified regulations.”
The Collins Amendment, which was adopted Thursday, would suspend — for a year — the new restart rules that the ATA claims pushed more trucks onto the road during daytime hours, terming the rules, “a consequence the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration failed to fully analyze from a safety standpoint.”
“America expects its freight to be moved, and these new rules prevent some drivers from taking a restart over the weekend,” said ATA Chairman Phil Byrd, president of Bulldog Hiway Express, Charleston, S.C. “And as a result, they need to take their restart midweek, which leads to shipping delays and costs.
“And if you’re fortunate enough to be able to take your restart over a weekend, it exacerbates congestion because this regulation dumps concentrated amounts of trucks on the highway system at 5:01 a.m. Monday morning when America is heading off to work and school,” Byrd said.
“This is not the end of this debate,” said Dave Osiecki, ATA executive vice president and head of national advocacy. “But thanks to the hard work of ATA’s members, the professional staff, ATA’s federation partners and the courage and leadership of Sen. Collins and others on Capitol Hill, we are one step closer to reversing these damaging regulations.”
Source: Trucking News Online