Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) Hero To Trucking Industry
Several organizations from the trucking industry have thanked Congress for the 34 hour restart suspension. American Trucking Association President and CEO Bill Graves was one that showed his appreciation. “We have known since the beginning that the federal government did not properly evaluate the potential impacts of the changes it made in July 2013,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “Now, thanks to the hard work of Senator Collins and many others, we have a common sense solution. Suspending these restrictions until all the proper research can be done is a reasonable step.”
The Collins Amendment language, which was adopted by a strong bipartisan vote of the Senate Appropriations Committee, suspends the restriction on the use of the 34-hour restart rule that requires drivers to take two consecutive periods of 1am to 5am off during the restart, thus pushing them into riskier daytime driving and then lifts the restriction on using the restart more than once every 168 hours, or one week.
“One of our members told us several of his drivers took four days off for the recent Thanksgiving holiday, yet when they returned to work, their hours were limited because that 96-hour break could not count as a 34-hour restart,” Graves said. “That’s just one of the impacts FMCSA failed to research that we hope they fully examine as a result of this congressional mandate.”
Bill Graves and other trucking companies have been pushing for the suspension of the 34 hour restart for a long time, ever since it was first introduced years ago. “I truly want to thank Congress for including these provisions, and for listening to the industry’s very real safety concerns on the issue and not being swayed by base emotions,” Graves said. “In debates about safety, it is often easy to make emotional, but misleading, claims about our industry and we’re pleased that those claims did not carry the day and our elected officials were won over by facts and evidence.”
ATA Chairman Duane Long was another high-level voice that showed his appreciation for the changes. “Fleets from around the country, including mine, tried to tell FMCSA that the previous rules were working just fine and that these new restart provisions were going to cause unintended problems,” stated Long. “Those warnings went unheeded at the time, but we’re glad Senator Collins and others in Congress listened to us and that we’ll finally get a full examination of the potential impacts of these rules. We call on President Obama to quickly sign this omnibus spending bill, which will immediately enact this suspension.“
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was a leading figure in the 34 hour restart rollback and many have her to thank. Collins was able to get a rider attached to the spending bill approved over the weekend so truckers will no longer have to get two nights sleep in a row before starting a work week.
“I care deeply about safety on our nation’s roads, and no one wants to see an accident caused by driver fatigue or by any other cause,” Collins said in a statement last week. But, she said, the suspended rest rules “presented some unintended and unanticipated consequences” that require further study.
Suspending the year-old federal regulations means truckers will be allowed to work as many as 82 hours over eight days, upending what safety advocates said was a key component of a 15-year effort to reduce deaths caused by drowsy long-haul drivers.
Even with the Collins suspension, drivers are still limited to 14 hours of work a day, of which only 11 hours can be behind the wheel, and they must take at least one 30-minute rest break. They are still required to be off duty for 34 hours at the end of a workweek, but the 1 a.m to 5 a.m. rest periods over two consecutive days are finally over.
Senator Susan Collins has been a friend to the trucking industry for many years. She has been a leading advocate for trucking in a variety of different measures.