The spending bill recently approved by Congress and signed by the President included a provision that suspends enforcement of a portion of the hours of service rules that were enacted in July of 2013. Specifically, the language suspends enforcement of the following requirements of the current 34-hour restart regulations:
- Must include two periods from 1:00 a.m. - 5:00 a.m. (home terminal time). (49 CFR 395.3(c))
- May only be used once per week (once every 168 hours), calculated from the beginning of the previous restart period. (49 CFR 395.3(d))
This means that FMCSA and the States must revert back to enforcement of the pre-July 1, 2013, 34-hour restart provisions, which allowed drivers to take a 34 hour restart with no restrictions on how often the restart may be used within the 7 or 8 day period and which did not include a requirement for early morning off-duty periods.
Fleets that are using EOBR's/ELD's should contact their vendors to learn how and when the recent HOS changes will be implemented into their systems. Others using electronic log auditing devices for paper logs should also contact their vendors for software updates.
The suspension will remain in effect until FMCSA has completed a study called for in the legislation, which will compare the operational, safety, health, and fatigue impacts of the current restart provisions and the previous restart provisions. The final report must include a recommendation on whether the current restart provisions have a greater net benefit than previous restart provisions.
While the suspension will be effective immediately, the practical aspects of how States should enforce this change are still being finalized. The FMCSA will be issuing guidance to the States and will also put a notice in the Federal Register announcing the changes.
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Steven Bojan, is the Vice President - Fleet Risk Services, for the Risk Services Division HUB International. To reach Steven or a local HUB risk services expert click here.