Two of the most controversial parts of last year’s Hours of Service (HOS) overhaul have officially been rolled back – at least for the time being. Truck drivers are still limited to a maximum of 70 hours per week, and they can resume work only after 34 hours off the clock, but that 34-hour restart is no longer required to include two periods between 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM, and a driver may again use the restart more than once in a given week.
The rollback was included as part of the recently passed omnibus spending bill and made official when President Obama signed it into law on Dec. 16. The bill funds the government through September 2015.
Gone for Good?
The omnibus bill requires that the FMCSA conduct a study of the effects of the 2013 restart provisions. The study will include two groups of drivers – one operating under the post-2013 restart restrictions, one under the pre-2013 rules. If the study finds that the new provisions enhanced safety, the provisions may be reinstated.
The DOT Hours of Service rules of 2013 added new constraints to truckload capacity, further limiting the trucking industry’s ability to keep up with high demand from shippers. The stipulation that the restart take include two periods between 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM also meant that more trucks were held up in traffic congestion. Carriers were estimated to have reduced productivity by 3% to 5% as a result of the HOS rules, while the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) and OOIDA reported that drivers lost between $1.6 billion and $3.9 billion in wages as a result of the regulation.