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Federal Update
Rolled back
FMCSA suspends restrictions in restart provision thanks to passage of Collins amendment

By Jami Jones, managing editor

With the signing of the giant government spending bill by the president in December 2014, many in the trucking industry are wondering when the changes to the voluntary 34-hour restart provision will be felt on the road.

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 signed the 2015 budget bill into law, the provision which suspends enforcement of the restart restrictions in the hours of service rule became effective. FMCSA printed a Federal Register notice to advise the public that it is suspending enforcement of the restart restrictions as required by law. The agency worked to ensure that the 12,000 state and federal motor carrier enforcement personnel are prepared to revert back to the previous restart according to the release.

The changes to the voluntary 34-hour restart come thanks to an amendment introduced by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. The Collins amendment suspended 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 commended 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.

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