House Members Drive to Delay on HOS Provision

by Jana Ritter - Published: 10/31/2013

Three members of the House of Representatives including two Republicans and one Democrat, have filed a bill that would in essence rescind a portion of the new Hours of Service rule, delaying use of the current 34-hour restart provision until an independent assessment of the rule is complete.

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Reps. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., Tom Rice, R-S.C., and Mike Michaud, D-Maine, said the new rule is taking a toll on truck drivers and the trucking industry, which the lawmakers called “the lifeblood of the American economy.”

The bill, entitled the “True Understanding of the Economy and Safety Act, or the “TRUE Safety Act would:

• Allow truckers to operate under the 34-hour restart rules that were in place before July 1, 2013.

• Require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an independent assessment of the methodology FMCSA used to come up with the new 34-hour restart rule.

• Prohibit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from applying the new restart rule if the findings of a current FMCSA study are contrary to FMCSA's in-house lab studies used to support the initial restart rule. The current FMCSA study on the effectiveness of the new 34-hour restart provision was mandated by Congress in MAP-21.

• Under no circumstances could the new 34-hour restart rule be re-implemented sooner than six months after GAO submits its assessment to Congress.

The FMCSA defended the method with which it developed the new 34-hour restart. “Safety is our top priority and the FMCSA is committed to reducing truck driver fatigue and improving safety for every traveler on our highways and roads,” FMCSA spokesperson Marissa Padilla said. “The 2011 Hours of Service Rule to reduce fatigue-related truck crashes was published following years of scientific research, safety studies, and consideration of public comments.  FMCSA has finished collecting data for the MAP-21 restart field study and the Agency is working to thoroughly analyze the findings and have the report peer-reviewed before sending it to Congress.”

In filing the bill, the lawmakers cited a study completed by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) that said the new rule would result in an annual cost of $376 million to the trucking industry alone.

The American Trucking Associations thanked the three representatives “for introducing legislation that would put the brakes on the restart provision of the current federal Hours of Service rules until an independent review is conducted.”

While only in effect for four months, the rule is already causing significant disruption in the trucking industry, said an ATA news release. “ATA member Schneider National, for example, reported that while productivity has slipped 3-4 percent, there’s been little change in the fleet’s safety performance and an increase in driver dissatisfaction.”

“We had hoped FMCSA would’ve listened to reason when we asked them to delay initially, but we hope they’ll listen to Congress and rethink these changes,” Bill Graves said. “We appreciate Reps. Hanna, Rice and Michaud for their important work in this area.”

Other businesses likely to be adversely impacted include construction firms, delivery services and fresh food distributors, the lawmakers claimed.