The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) said today it welcomes news that the Senate and House appropriations committees are backing language in the final FY15 appropriations bill that would set aside the current version of the 34-hour restart rule in hours-of-service regulations.
The appropriations bill, which was presented late Tuesday, would cut off funding for enforcement of the restart while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration studies its impact.
“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. “We urge members in both chambers to support this legislation in a final vote in the coming days.”
“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.”
The provision was authored by Sen. Susan Collins, (R-Maine), and approved on a bipartisan basis by the Senate Appropriations Committee. 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. That review would include input from the Office of Inspector General to confirm if these changes are truly justified.
The amendment has drawn praise from the Fraternal Order of Police, former FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg and others. Truckers point to the current rule’s 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. overnight periods, mandated for anyone who voluntarily uses the 34-hour restart provision, as unnecessary and dangerous. Many truck drivers choose to work overnight shifts because there are fewer vehicles on the road.
Trucking critics opposed to the Collins Amendment claim truckers would be required to work 80 hours or more, and that night-time sleep is more beneficial than naps during the daylight hours.