Transpo funding bill includes HOS & driver break changes

Updated May 25, 2016

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted today, Tuesday, May 24, to send to the full House a $60 billion Department of Transportation funding package that also would:

  • permanently restore 2011 regulations pertaining to truckers’ use of a 34-hour restart
  • halt the DOT’s work on its proposed Safety Fitness Determination rulemaking
  • prevent states from enforcing any state laws governing truckers’ breaks
Despite opposition to all three major trucking measures during the committee’s meeting and an amendment brought to strike all three, the controversial trucking-related riders made the cut.
The bill and its trucking provisions still have several major hurdles to clear before becoming law, however. The bill must come to the House floor for a vote and face amendments there that could strip any of the trucking provisions from the final text.

The ATA’s Dave Osiecki, VP of national advocacy, praised the bill for clarifying “Congress’ objective that interstate trucking be governed by the federal government, not individual states, in order to prevent a patchwork of regulations that needlessly complicates the lives of millions of professional drivers.”

The hours of service provisions would, if made law, revert hours of service restart rules for truckers to those in effect in December 2011. A 34-hour restart would not be required to include the two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and its use would not be limited to once a week. The 30-minute break requirement would still be in effect, however, and would be the lone remaining element of the hours of service changes that went into effect in July 2013.

The provisions do not tie the future of hours of service rules to a study being conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as Congress has called for previously.

The House’s hours reform, however, sets up a showdown with the proposal that passed the full Senate last week. In its 2017 DOT funding bill, the Senate puts the ongoing FMCSA restart study front and center. The study’s conclusions would dictate the future of hours of service regulations, if the Senate bill prevails.