House passes bill to address 34-hour restart rule

Updated Dec 11, 2016

Update, 12/8, 3:19 p.m. The House has passed the bill referenced in this story. For the bill to become law and the 34-hour restart issue to be resolved, the Senate must still pass the bill and President Obama must sign it. Below is the original story.

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Congress is expected yet this week to clarify an hours of service question it mistakenly created previously, and two national trucking organizations hope this will resolve the issue.

Writing for Overdrive and Commercial Carrier Journal, James Jaillet explains:

“A year after inadvertently putting the 34-hour restart at risk of being removed from federal hours of service regulations, Congress has unveiled legislation to fix the issue. Lawmakers in the House and Senate will this week take up the bill to clarify the future of truckers’ use of the 34-hour restart, likely putting the issue to rest.

“For the time being, truckers can continue to operate as they have since December 2014, meaning 34-hour restarts do not need to include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and the 34-hour restart option can be used as often as truck operators like.

“However, should a pending study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration find rules in place between July 1, 2013, and December 2014 promote better rest for truck operators, those rules would go back into effect. Those provisions include the requirement that a 34-hour restart contain two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and a once-per-week limit to the restart’s use.

“Congress included the hours of service clarifications in a 2017 Continuing Resolution appropriations bill that funds the government through April. The hours of service language appears to be the only trucking-related measure in the legislation. The bill will likely pass both chambers of Congress this week.

Read Jaillet’s entire story.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear commented on congressional efforts:

“ATA thanks Congress for including what should be a permanent fix to the hours of service restart in this continuing resolution, and we look forward to its final passage into law to resolve this issue. Reverting back to the pre-July 2013 restart shifts the emphasis back to safety by removing flawed data from the rulemaking process. The entire industry will now be able to comply with this rule thanks to a common sense approach championed by a bipartisan group of legislators.

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“While ATA sought the same for preempting states that have added redundant rest break requirements on top of the existing federal standard, ATA will continue to push hard for federal preemption of specific state laws when the 115th Congress convenes next month.”

David Heller, vice president of government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association said:

“Our hope is that congress will finally use this opportunity to put this issue to rest so that our industry can move forward onto other pressing issues that need to be addressed as well.”