Few issues related to the trucking industries have garnered as much attention as the 34 hour restart rule. Now it looks like a permanent fix is in the works that will resolve the issue once and for all. Thanks to legislation recently passed by congress, there will no longer be any questions and fighting about the rule, unless the results are bad.
We saw in this legislation that Congress once again got involved in the rulemaking of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It seems to be a trend where the FMCSA will make a rule, the industry will balk at it, and either the rule is subject to a lawsuit or a lobbying effort to overrule it.
Changes in 2013
In 2013, the FMCSA issued a new regulation that changed how the 34 hour restart rule could be used by truckers. Under that final rule, anyone who wanted to use the restart provisions could only do so once every 168 hours, and two of the periods under the 34 hours must be between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. As anyone in the business could assume, this was not well received at all.
Critics of the then new rule argued that it created the opposite of what it was meant to defeat: Increasingly tired and fatigued drivers. Because of all the negative press, feedback, and results, Congress passed an act in 2014 that suspended the new requirements of the 34 hour restart rule. That suspension was not permanent however, and mandated a study on the rule before any final regulation could be issued.
The newly signed into law legislation continues to tie any rule regarding the 34 hour restart rule to the study underway, but it sets certain benchmarks that must be met. Before the FMCSA can implement their requirements for the 34 hour restart rule, they must show statistically relevant improvement by their study in the following areas:
- truckers are better rested because of the requirements;
- driver health is improved;
- safety is improved;
- work schedules are better; and
- driver longevity is improved.
With all these requirements, the study must show that drivers are better off overall because of the new requirements, rather than just using the regular rule.
Understanding and Working With Regulations
The FMCSA and its rules are not going away anytime soon. It is imperative that any company involved with trucking understand the rules and regulations affecting the trucking industry, and how to stay compliant with those rules. Failure to comply with a rule, or getting caught working outside regulations could result in sidling your company for a long time, and even shutting you down permanently.
As you continue to evaluate your company’s legal needs, consider making us your legal partners. At Anderson and Yamada, we have decades of experience counseling and representing trucking companies with every aspect of their legal needs. From Carmack Amendment litigation to regulatory compliance, we are the right team for you. Contact us today.