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34-hour HOS restart rule front and center for ATRI survey

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
January 11, 2013

The new Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations are set to take effect around the middle of this year. As reported in LM, Even a casual observer of the trucking market knows that the new rules are decidedly less than popular to say the least.

Perhaps the most controversial part of the new HOS regulations is the 34-hour restart.

As per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the new restart policy aims to change provisions in the 34-hour restart, which allows drivers to “reset” their workweek after 34 consecutive hours off duty. Under the proposed changes, drivers would be able to reset their workweek only once every seven days—and the rest period would have to include two spans from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
The government also wants to impose two mandatory 15-minute rest breaks. These provisions, trucking interests say, are arbitrary, capricious and not based on sound science.

Various industry groups, including the American Trucking Associations and the National Retail Federation, among others, have repeatedly blasted the 34-hour restart.

LM’s John Schulz reported in August 2012 that the ATA, in a brief filed in late July in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, said the FMCSA’s latest attempt to rein in drivers’ hours of service (HOS) was based on a “sham” analysis.

And Schulz noted that another sticking point for truckers is that the provision that would require those working a full week to take at least two rest periods between 1 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the 34-hour “restart” period. Under that provision, drivers can “reset” their workweek by taking 34 consecutive hours off duty. The new rule would allow drivers to use that restart provision only once during any seven-day period.

Carriers and shippers have told LM that this provision serves as a threat to reduce total drive time will impact industry operations.

U.S. Xpress Enterprises Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing John White told us that “the real challenge is the restart is 34 hours and it could be as much as 49 or 50 hours, depending on when a driver finishes his day and if freight is available. Another issue is if the driver has worked his seven days and now cannot start his 34-hour restart until 1 a.m.”

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) is fully aware of the challenges this is likely to present for the industry and recently released a second survey to collect data on the impacts that may accrue from changes to the 34-hour restart rule.

ATRI said that this survey seeks input from commercial drivers on the potential operational impacts from these changes. And it added that this survey, coupled with a recent motor carrier one, is part of a larger ATRI study which it said quantifies “real world operational impacts on the trucking industry that may result from these revisions.”

In many cases it stands to reason that the support against the 34-hour restart will be evident in this survey’s findings when they are released. But that remains to be seen when the results are published later in the year. But in the meantime, I am fairly certain we will be reporting on HOS-related items between now and July, when the rules are set to take effect, and beyond.

About the Author

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Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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