Restart Regs Found to Have No Safety Benefit for Commercial Drivers
The results of a study by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inspector General recently released to the House and Senate Appropriations committees found no net benefit from the implementation of the 2013 restart provisions for driver operations, safety, fatigue, and health.
On Dec. 27, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration published the Hours of Service of Drivers final Rule. The goal of the rulemaking was to reduce excessively long work hours that increase the risk of fatigue-related crashes and long-term health problems for drivers and was fully implemented on July 1, 2013.
The hours-of service regulations that were in effect until June 30, 2013, prescribed the following:
- Drivers may drive 11 hours within a 14-hour non-extendable window after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in the most recent 7/8 days.
- Drivers may resume a weekly duty cycle after taking a restart break of 34 or more consecutive hours off duty (commonly referred to as the 34-hour restart rule).
The 34-hour rule is intended to provide sufficient time for a drive to recuperate from the cumulative fatigue that may build up across duty cycles if that driver wants to work beyond the weekly maximum on duty limits.
The 2011 final rule amended the 34-hour restart to require a driver to include at least two nighttime periods (from 1 a.m. until 5 a.m., based on the home terminal time zone) in the restart break and limited the use of the restart provision to once every 168 hours.
The previous restart provision did not include the two nighttime period requirements.
Congress raised concerns about the rule’s unintended consequences, such as increased congestion during certain traffic hours and suspended FMCSA’s enforcement of the restart provisions in the 2015 Appropriations act.
The act also required the DOT to conduct a study of the operational,safety, health, and fatigue impacts of the provisions.
The results of the study could mean the end of the regulations implemented in 2013.
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