For over a year, the trucking industry has been asking Congress to revisit the hours-of-service rules that were implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2013. Truck drivers have complained that some of the regulations are far too restrictive and have unintended consequences. Specifically, the trucking industry has taken issue with the requirement that a driver's 34 hour restart include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods.
The requirement was included in the provisions as a way to help reduce the amount of driver fatigue, which is a leading contributor to truck accidents. Truck drivers often prefer to drive at night while fewer vehicles are on the road and the trucking industry claims that by forcing drivers off the road during those hours, more trucks are on the road during high traffic times, which can lead to more accidents.
It appears the trucking industry will get its wish—at least temporarily. Congress is likely to send a bill to the White House this week that would suspend those requirements until at least September 30, 2015. During that time, the bill also directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to initiate a "study of operational, safety, health and fatigue impacts of the restart provisions" to show the impacts it may have on road safety. The DOT will then submit the results of its study to Congress who will revisit the provisions in 2015.
If the bill passes both through Congress and is signed by President Obama, enforcement of the 34 restart provisions will be halted immediately.