President signs approps bill, changes to 34-hour restart into law

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 12/17/2014

With one last formality keeping it from being official on paper, the changes to the 34-hour restart are now part of the law of the land.

President Barack Obama signed the giant government spending bill into law Tuesday. In that bill was legislative language directing two changes to the voluntary restart provision.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a statement, saying the agency would immediately suspend the requirement that each restart contain two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. overnights and the prohibition on using the provision more frequently than once every seven days.

“When the president signs the 2015 budget bill into law, the provision which suspends enforcement of the restart restrictions in the hours-of-service rule will become effective. FMCSA is preparing a Federal Register notice that will also be posted on our website, to advise the public that it is suspending enforcement of the restart restrictions as required by law. We are also working to ensure that the 12,000 state and federal motor carrier enforcement personnel are prepared to revert back to the previous restart,” the agency statement read.

The agency circulated a notice of enforcement suspension to state law enforcement partners on Wednesday. In the notice, William Quade, associate administrator for enforcement at FMCSA, stated the suspension of the two overnight provisions and the restriction of use once every seven days became effective on Dec. 16.

The changes to the voluntary 34-hour restart come thanks to an amendment introduced by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. The Collins amendment would suspend the overnight provisions and the restriction on using the restart once every seven days while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducts a comprehensive study – with input from the Office of Inspector General – to see if these changes are truly justified.

The amendment also contains a lengthy detailing of how the study will be conducted, peer reviewed and approved by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association backed the amendment and thanked Collins for her leadership on the issue.

“OOIDA and small-business truckers applaud the House and Senate for rejecting scare tactics and misinformation and maintaining the bipartisan hours-of-service provision,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer in a press release.

“Small-business truckers know from personal experience that current restart restrictions compromise safety by forcing them onto the roads during the most congested and dangerous hours of morning traffic. While this isn’t the final word on the restart restrictions, OOIDA and our members thank Sen. Collins for her commitment to safety and her tenacity in fighting for sound policy.”

While the suspension will be immediate, there could be hiccups in roadside enforcement, OOIDA cautioned. The Association recommends drivers keep a copy of FMCSA’s statement and the upcoming Federal Register notice with them in the event they encounter roadside enforcement unaware of the change.

Copyright © OOIDA