WASHINGTON, D.C. – Federal trucking officials in the U.S. have completed a study of the restart provisions in the country’s hours of service rules for truck drivers and they may have a tough time getting regulations back to the way they used to be.
The study follows legislation passed by the U.S. Congress late last year in which they ordered the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to look into the operational, safety, health, and fatigue effects of provisions allowing truck drivers to voluntarily reset how many hours they can drive each week.
The agency collected data to compare five-month work schedules of drivers to assess safety critical events; such as crashes, near-crashes, and crash-relevant conflicts; along with operator fatigue/alertness and short-term health outcomes of drivers who operated under the restart provisions in effect between July 1, 2013 and Dec. 15, 2014, and those drivers who operate under the provisions as in effect prior to July 1, 2013.
Drivers from a wide variety of fleet sizes and operations provided a substantial amount of data throughout the course of the study, according to FMCSA, with more than 220 participating drivers contributed information as they drove their normal, revenue-producing routes.
Now the next phase is just underway, with the agency is working toward completing the final report by the end of the year and its not offering up preliminary results.
In December 2014, FMCSA was forced by Congress to change hours of service (HOS) rules allowing truckers who want to restart their weekly driving window of 60 hours on duty in seven consecutive days, or 70 hours in eight consecutive days, to no longer have to take two consecutive periods off duty from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. It also did away with restricting the use of the 34-hour restart to only once every seven days.
All of this was brought about due to widespread complaints in the trucking industry about changes in regulations that took effect in July 2013, placing additional restrictions on use of the 34-hour restart.
Legislation passed by the U.S. Congress on Thursday reportedly contains language allowing the current rules over use of the 34-hour restart provision to continue if the FMCSA can not prove in this study that previous requirements improve safety.
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