34-hour restart rule suspension in Senate hands

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Truckers interested in whether or not the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s 34-hour restart rule will be suspended have turned their eyes to the U.S. Senate after the House passed the funding bill.

The House of Representatives voted 219-206 to pass the $1.1 trillion spending bill, which funds most of the U.S. government through the 2015 fiscal year, bringing the controversial 34-hour restart rule suspension one step closer to reality.

The funding bill will cut off funding for enforcement of the restart rule while the FMCSA studies its impact. The restart suspension is now awaiting action from the U.S. Senate.

At issue is the provision in the 2013 hours of service (HOS) rule that requires drivers to take two periods off between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during their 34-hour restart, and limits use of the restart to once a week.

The suspension would last until the agency finishes the study or September 30 of next year, whichever comes later. Meanwhile the earlier version of the restart, which does not contain the restrictions mentioned earlier, would be in effect.

The change would improve industry productivity by two percent immediately, according to trucking industry analysts FTR, and the modified regulation will lower productivity by 1.5 percent, if the sleep timing issues are solved, which is a 50- basis-point improvement over the current regulation. 

In the meantime, the 2015 productivity benefit will noticeably affect truckload capacity usage, joining an already moderating trend to lower capacity utilization to near 96 percent, FTR claims.

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