DOT STUDY FINDS 34-HOUR RESTART PROVISIONS HAVE NO SAFETY BENEFITS

In 2013, two provisions added to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) 34-hour restart ruling required commercial motor vehicle drivers to take their 34-hour restarts during a time period that included two consecutive 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. periods, and limited drivers to taking one 34-hour reset every 168 hours.

These provisions forced drivers to take breaks at very specific times, regardless of sleep schedules, delivery times and traffic conditions.

The commercial trucking 34 hour restart rule may have no safety benefits

In 2014, the rules were suspended for all drivers for one year so that FMCSA could conduct studies to determine the effectiveness of the 34-hour restart changes, but the suspension was kept beyond the one-year deadline.

On March 2, 2017, the Department of Transportation (DOT), Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and FMCSA issued a letter to Elaine L. Chao, the new Secretary of the DOT, confirming they have completed a final report on the Hours of Service Restart Study, concurring that the provisions did not identify a “net benefit from the use of the two suspended provisions of the restart rule.”

The yet-to-be-released final report will acknowledge that “The restart is an important tool for drivers, not to maximize driving time, but to have the flexibility to maximize off-duty time and time at home, and we are pleased that drivers will continue to have unrestricted access to it.”

The industry has overwhelmingly offered support for the change in this ruling.

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