Second legislative attack on 34-hour restart launched

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 12/27/2013

The new 34-hour restart provision in hours-of-service rules, which mandates that two overnight periods must be included, has a second set of legislative gun sights set on it with the introduction of a bill in the Senate on Dec. 20.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., along with co-sponsor Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., introduced bill S1891, which seeks to require a study and report by the comptroller general regarding the restart provision of the hours-of-service rules for commercial truck drivers, and for other purposes.

Full text of S1891 and the short title are not available. If that sounds familiar, it is because Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., took aim on the 34-hour restart when he introduced HR3413, the “True Understanding of the Economy and Safety Act,” or the “TRUE Safety Act” on Oct. 31 in the House of Representatives. The bill now has bipartisan support in the House with 54 cosponsors.

Hanna’s bill calls for a comprehensive review of the new restart provision. Until that review is completed, the bill would mandate that the industry resume operating with the previous version of the restart provision that does not include two overnight 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and restricts its use to once every 168 hours.

Hanna’s legislation states that the new regulation will cost the trucking industry up to $376 million annually, reduce productivity, affect driver pay, and increase the cost to deliver goods.

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21, the current highway law, mandated a thorough operation study.

The law mandated that the Department of Transportation was to complete a field study on the effectiveness of the new restart provision. The field study was to expand on the results of the laboratory-based study relating to driver fatigue sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The report was to be completed no later than March 31.

Hanna’s bill states that the restart rule should not have become effective before the field study was completed. Now he is proposing a double-check of the study once completed.

The bill proposes an assessment of the methodology used by the DOT in the field study to determine whether the data used is statistically valid and whether it follows the plan for the “Scheduling and Fatigue Recovery Project” developed by FMCSA.

The bill also seeks to mandate a comptroller review of the regulatory impact analysis – the cost-benefit analysis – that accompanied the final hours-of-service regulation when it was released in December 2011,

Hanna’s bill would also prohibit any changes to the restart provision that run counter to the findings of the two Comptroller General reviews.

Hanna’s bill has been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. Ayotte’s bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

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