In July 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented revised Hours of Service (HOS) restart regulations. Two of those rules are of interest to the industry as they have created potential safety issues. Those rules are requiring that the restart rule include two consecutive overnight periods from 1:00a.m – 5:00a.m. and restricting the use of the restart rule to only once every 168 hours (once a week).

The National Chicken Council along with a broad coalition of trade associations and companies have been working with Congress and the Department of Transportation to have FMCSA re-visit those requirements of the hours of service and conduct a study.

Last week Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) offered an amendment in the Appropriations Committee to the Transportation/Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) FY2015 Appropriations bill that would address the safety and congestion impacts of the July 2013 revised rules.

The amendment requires the FMCSA to conduct a study in order to assess the operational, safety, health and fatigue impacts of the restart provision. This study will assess drivers’ safety critical events, fatigue, and levels of alertness and driver health outcomes. Further, in order to ensure that the study produces credible results, DOT’s Inspector General will review and comment on the department’s plan as well as report to the Secretary and House and Senate Committees on Appropriations on the study’s compliance with the requirements.

The amendment also provides a temporary suspension of two provisions (the two consecutive overnight periods from 1:00a.m. – 5:00a.m. and the use of the restart rule to only once every 168 hours, once a week) while the department conducts the study.

In addition, the amendment requires the Secretary of  Transportation to submit a final report on the findings and conclusions of the study and the department’s recommendations on whether the provisions in effect on July 1, 2013, provide a greater net benefit for the operational, safety, health, and fatigue impacts of the restart provision.

The amendment provides $4 million in unobligated balances to conduct this study.

The House this week passed their THUD Appropriations bill and included report language that says a study is needed to look at the revised restart rules.

On a related note, this week FMCSA today signed a one-year exemption from the 30-minute rest break requirement for livestock haulers. It has been sent to the Federal Register for publication and is effective immediately. Provided there are no safety issues, livestock haulers can reapply in a year and they will extend it.