As with almost anything related to hours of service, confusion is running rampant over Rep. Brian Babin’s attempt to initiate reform of the hours-of-service regulations.
The Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers (REST) Act, HR5417, would allow truckers to pause the 14-hour on-duty clock for a single period of up to three hours, provided the driver is off-duty during that time. The bill also eliminates the mandatory 30-minute rest break. The bill does not seek to increase the number of hours drivers can be behind the wheel.
Here we tackle some of the common misconceptions about the legislation.
Myth: Adding a three-hour break means truckers will work 17-hour days.
Fact: The legislation does not add hours to the 14-hour workday. Drivers would still be prevented from driving if they work more than the legal 14-hour limit of on-duty time. The legislation introduces flexibility that does not force drivers to work the 14 hours consecutively. It would allow drivers to pause the 14-hour clock up to three hours a day for needed rest, when they want it.
Myth: The legislation would require drivers to take a three-hour break during the day.
Fact: The provision is a voluntary one. Drivers would be able to choose, for themselves, if they want a break and how long that break can be, up to three hours long. Now drivers can take longer than a three-hour break, but anything over the initial three hours would count against his or her 14-hour on-duty clock.
Myth: Shippers and/or receivers will make me take the three-hour break at the dock.
Fact: OK, they might try, and plenty of them certainly do. However, the fact remains that dock time is considered on-duty time. Any shipper or receiver who bullies a driver into going off-duty at the dock would be guilty of coercion and should be reported to the FMCSA for committing the offense. Reports go to 888-DOT-SAFT (888-368-7238).
Myth: The change would mess up the split-sleeper berth provision.
Fact: The legislative language does not make any changes to the current ability to split the 10 hours of off-duty time into two periods – currently a split of eight hours in the bunk and two more hours of off-duty time. The language also does not affect the FMCSA’s current split-sleeper berth pilot program that is investigating the possibility of returning to sleeper berth time that can be split seven and three off or even six and four off.
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