Hours-of-service law limits drivers’ on-duty time to 14 hours with one 30-minute break, but only 11 of those hours can be spent actually driving. That leaves about 150 minutes for things like “pickup and delivery, safety inspections and shutting down.”
Time spent waiting at loading docks or having to drive around to find a safe place to park all eat into the driver’s eligible hours of service.
Another ongoing frustration with hours of service is the 2013 HOS rule’s restart provision. In December, President Obama signed the appropriations bill that halts enforcement of the requirement that a driver’s 34-hour restart include two 1-5 a.m. periods and the once-per-week limit of the restart. This means truck drivers no longer have to abide by the restart provisions put in place in July 2013. But that doesn’t mean the 34-hour restart is a dead issue.
The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration has been mandated to study how the restart rule impacts drivers, carriers and safety. Congress says research must show that the 2013 restart provision “provides a greater net benefit for the operational safety, health and fatigue impacts” they cause.
FMCSA has to study two groups of drivers: one group that operates under post-2013 restart provisions and one group that operates under the pre-2013 restart provisions. The study must last at least five months, after which the groups will be compared on things like crashes and driver fatigue levels.
Earlier this year, the
American Transportation Research Institute released the results of an analysis of the safety and operational impacts of the 34-restart. “The crash data analysis showed a statistically significant increase in truck crashes after the July 1, 2013, rule change, specifically with injury and tow away crashes,” according to ATRI. “In particular, the increase in injury and tow away crashes would be expected based on the shifting of trucks to more congested weekday travel due to increased traffic exposure.”
But FMCSA has been firm that it wants the HOS rules to include the 34-hour restart.
Once the FMCSA study is complete, the agency must send a report to a review panel consisting of “individuals with relevant medical and scientific experience.” During the process, DOT’s Office of the Inspector General must keep an eye on FMCSA to ensure the methodology used in the data collection is appropriate and that the review panel is qualified.
After FMCSA completes the report there are some checks and balances to ensure the agency complied with the requirements of the funding law.
If the study shows that the restart improves safety, FMCSA will be allowed to enforce the 2013 rules.
Originally posted on
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