Suspension of the 1 am to 5 am provision in the hours of service rule has now been made permanent. The Inspector General for the US Department of Transportation released a letter detailing its findings from the review of the final report of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Hours of Service Restart Study. The study was mandated by Congress to determine the impact of the 1 am to 5 am requirement and the limitation on using the 34-hour restart more than once a week.
In the letter, the IG concurs with the DOT’s conclusion that the study “did not explicitly identify a net benefit from the use of the two suspended provisions of the restart rule on driver operations, safety, fatigue and health.” As a result of this finding, legislation passed late in 2016 requires that the suspension of these two provisions now becomes permanent.
Congress suspended the 1 am to 5 am requirement and the once-weekly limit in December 2014, pending the issuance of the DOT’s study.
The DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will likely need to issue a formal notice to permanently remove the rules, but the regulations have been suspended since a December 2014-issued notice. The report does not change the rules under which truckers currently operate.
A DOT spokesperson says the department is in the “final stages of reviewing the study” before sending a final report to Congress, as required by a 2014-passed budget act.
The study found that truckers abiding by the July 1, 2013, regulations—those requiring the early morning periods to be included in the restart—operated no more safely than truckers not abiding by the rules, the OIG letter said.
More than 200 drivers were studied for the DOT’s report, which was executed by FMCSA and Virginia Tech. Drivers were divided into two groups. One group followed the more restrictive 2013 rules, and the others were free to use the restart as they wanted.
Chris Spear, American Trucking Associations president and CEO, said the trucking industry was pleased by the release of DOT report.
“The release of this report closes what has been a long, and unnecessary, chapter in our industry’s drive to improve highway safety,” he said.
ATA has fought against these restrictions since they were first proposed in 2013.
“This marks the end of a long struggle, but hopefully the beginning of a new era of inclusive and data-based regulation,” said Spear.