Amendment aims to halt HOS restart rules for one year
June 06, 2014
The debate over the restart provision in the motor carrier driver Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations, which took effect in July 2013, continues, with an amendment from Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) that was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee this week by a 21-9 vote ahead of signing off on a $54.4 billion Fiscal Year 2015 federal transportation bill.
The goal of the mandate is to suspend the new HOS restart rules for one year and during that time have the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study the rule during that time to analyze its safety benefits and provide an understanding if how the restart changes impact drivers, as well as safety and productivity issues in trucking.
The restart rules require truckers who maximize their weekly work hours must take at least two nights’ rest when their 24-hour body clock demands sleep the most—from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. This rest requirement allows drivers to restart the clock on their workweek by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. The final rule allows drivers to use the restart provision only once during a seven-day period.
And in the nearly one year since the new HOS rules, especially the aforementioned restart rule, trucking stakeholders have cited lost productivity due to the restart that has crimped capacity, which was already tight during the first quarter.
The amendment to postpone the restart rules for a year was endorsed by the American Associations (ATA).
“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.”
ATA said the primary issue with the restart rules is that they push more trucks onto the road during daytime hours, which they said is a a consequence the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration failed to fully analyze from a safety standpoint.
This approved amendment comes on the heels of a letter from the ATA and dozens of other industry stakeholders, including FedEx, UPS, carriers, and various shipper groups, to Senators Barbara Mikulski, Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Richard Shelby, Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations, and Susan Collins, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.
The ATA said that the purpose of the letter was to voice support for both the proposed Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Restart Study and a one-year suspension of what it called “unjustified restrictions” on the use of HOS restart provisions by drivers.
The letter outlined the challenges the restart provision has placed on various supply chain stakeholder, including for-hire and private carriers, drivers, manufacturers, retailers, shippers, and consignees, and explained that the restart restrictions have placed economic hardships on thousands of employers and reduced driver wages on an industry-wide basis.
In making the case for the proposed Commercial Motor Vehicle study and one-year suspension of the HOS restart restrictions, the ATA explained to the Senators that FMCSA claimed a small percentage of drivers would be impacted by the rules, specifically drivers routinely working “excessive” hours. But it cited how motor carriers and a domestic automobile manufacturer met with the FMCSA and used data from electronic logging devices that showed the restart restrictions are “having unintended impacts on many drivers, including those working very reasonable hours,” adding that “these motor carriers have not experienced any corresponding safety or driver health benefits.” The letter explained that those issues were labeled as “unintended consequences” by the FMCSA.
Mike Regan, chief relationship officer said that the ATA’s efforts and the Collins’ amendment are “common sense solutions” that can help the industry.
Research issued in 2013 by the American Transportation Research Institute found that the 34-hour restart changes will ultimately have a net annual cost of up to $376 million as opposed to the $133 million net benefit cited by the FMCSA prior to the rules taking effect.
“The 34 hour restart [rule] is a drain on both the carrier community and the shipper one, ultimately, resulting in impacts to the end consumer,” said Jeff Brady, director of transportation for Harry & David, a multi-channel specialty retailer and producer of branded premium gift-quality fruit, gourmet food products and other gifts. “Trucking impacts the entire economy and with the last several decades of no cohesive highway infrastructure plans; the increases in congestion, at critical times of the day none the less, is impacting capacity. Capacity in trucking, or lack thereof, creates higher costs to get capacity commitments from an ever shrinking carrier base.”
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