FMCSA officially strikes long-dormant 34-hour restart provisions from HOS

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Over two years after two provisions of the 34-hour restart rule were suspended permanently, they have been formally stricken from the Federal Motor Safety Regulations. (Courtesy: J.J. KELLER & ASSOCIATES)

WASHINGTON — A portion of the 2011 final rule on Hours of Service that caused consternation and controversy within the trucking industry has been officially erased from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) in hopes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said, to avoid possible confusion among industry stakeholders.

The agency’s action was revealed in a final rule that was published in the Federal Register (FR)Thursday and immediately went into effect.

The eliminated provisions involved the 34-hour restart rule of HOS, which first appeared in the 2003 HOS rule.

When the 2003 rule was implemented in early 2004, professional truck drivers were allowed for the first time ever to reset the 60/70-hour clock by going off duty for 34 consecutive hours.

There were no restrictions on how frequently the restart provision could be used.

When the 2011 rule was promulgated, the agency decided — at least partially at the urging of safety advocacy groups — to amend the restart provision so that it could be used only once in a seven-day period and required that the 34 hours include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. time periods.

The amended restart provision didn’t sit well with the trucking industry, which almost immediately set out to get the agency to dump the amendments and revert to the original restart provision.

But the agency wouldn’t budge, and the trucking industry turned to Congress for relief.

In the final rule published Thursday, the FMCSA admitted there were issues with the added stipulations to the use of the 34-hour restart.

“These restrictions proved problematic for many drivers and carriers, adversely affecting

their operations and generating significant controversy,” the FR notice read.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was the catalyst behind the congressional relief.

She introduced an amendment to the 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill that would suspend the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. overnight requirement and the provision to allow more than one restart in a seven-day period.

The bill required the suspension remain in place until a study was conducted on the provisions to determine if they added value to the restart option.

The amendment made clear that the study would need to show a statistically significant improvement in multiple factors enumerated in the legislation.

Based on another requirement of Collins’ amendment, the Department of Transportation would report the findings of that study to Congress.

In the March 2017 report to Congress, the DOT confirmed the finding of the study that no statistically significant benefits accrued from restart provisions added in the 2011 HOS restart rule.

An FMCSA spokesman said there was no significance to the fact the agency chose to issue the final rule Thursday, two years after it became obvious based on a congressionally-mandated study that the two provisions added in 2011 would forever remain suspended.

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Lyndon Finney’s publishing career spans over 55 years beginning with a reporter position with the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1965. Since then he’s been a newspaper editor at the Southwest Times Record, served five years as assistant managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and from November 2004 through December 2019 served as editor of The Trucker. Between newspaper jobs he spent 14 years as director of communications at Baptist Health, Arkansas’ largest healthcare system. In addition to his publishing career he served for 46 years as organist at Little Rock’s largest Baptist church.
For over 30 years, the objective of The Trucker editorial team has been to produce content focused on truck drivers that is relevant, objective and engaging. After reading this article, feel free to leave a comment about this article or the topics covered in this article for the author or the other readers to enjoy. Let them know what you think! We always enjoy hearing from our readers.

4 COMMENTS

  1. now you have to sit for 2 days to get enough hours back to run or drive 8hr day’s to stay on recaps
    34 hr reset was a great concept so was the thirty minutes break everybody take a lunch right

  2. Why dont they just remove the 34 hour restart? It’s the dumbest thing in the HOS rules. We already have to sleep for 10 hours per day when most people dont sleep for more than 8, and even less if they work two jobs. Just remove it, nobody wants to sit in their trucks for 34 hours in a random state and truck stop. Its dumb.

  3. so what happens when you use up your 70
    on the 6th day the 70hr in 8 days won’t be able to drive for 2 days fmsca got ya

    and you didn’t realize how great the 34hr reset was

  4. They didn’t get rid of the 34hr reset. They just permanently removed the old provisions that went with it. The 1to5am and the once a week reset.

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