The hours-of-service 34-hour restart provision was essentially useless in promoting safety, a Department of Transportation study has found – a finding that essentially kills the provision.
Although the study was not yet published, the DOT Inspector General on March 2 informed Transportation Secretary Eliane Chao and congressional committees of the study’s finding.
The study “did not explicitly identify a net benefit from the use of the two suspended provisions of the restart rule on driver operations, safety, fatigue and health,” the OIG reported.
Late last year the Republican Congress suspended the 34-hour restart provision unless the DOT study could show that the restart provision substantially improved safety (AA, 12-15-16, P. 1).
Adopted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2013 the restart provision was estimated to have cost 4-6% in lost trucking productivity during the time it was in effect, before being first suspended by Congress late in 2014.
For the study, DOT researchers compared drivers’ schedules, analyzed events like accidents and near accidents, and surveyed driver alertness and health.
American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear said, “Congress repeatedly told FMCSA that rules of this nature must show a benefit to safety and this report clearly shows there was no benefit.”
“It’s not only common sense, it’s trucker sense,” said Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “We have always championed the need for flexibility in the hours-of-service regulations so that drivers can drive when rested and avoid times of heavy congestion or bad weather conditions.”
James P. Hoffa, general president of the Teamsters union slammed the report. “The rollback of these rules is short-sighted and one that could jeopardize the lives of Americans traveling on the nation’s thoroughfares,” he said. “Truckers, like most of us, do their job better when they get proper rest.”