Suspension of hours of service (HOS) restart rules may provide slight—but temporary—relief to shippers and carriers dealing with fallout of increased transportation regulation and driver shortage.
With the signing of the Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations bill by the President on December 17, 2014, key parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) hours of service regulations that govern the 34-hour restart rule for truck drivers were temporarily suspended. The suspension (now in effect) will last until at least September 30, 2015 while studies on the safety benefits and costs of the HOS regulations are carried out by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the DOT Inspector General.
Which HOS Rules Were Suspended?
The suspension targets two specific provisions of the HOS regulations that went into effect on July 1, 2013. Namely, the rule that allows commercial drivers to restart their clocks only once per week has been lifted for the time being. Now, drivers will be able to restart their clocks more than once per week. Secondly, drivers will no longer be required to include two 1:00-5:00 a.m. periods within their 34-hour restart.
Issues Concerning the HOS Rules
In recent years, increasing regulations on the HOS rules, including the restart provision, have raised safety concerns from many trucking groups, including the American Trucking Association (ATA). “The new restart restrictions, since they went into effect in July 2013, created a real safety concern for truck drivers and fleets,” ATA executive vice president Dave Osiecki said in a video statement about the recent HOS rules suspension. “The safety concern was that when drivers come off the two back-to-back 1 a.m. to 5.a.m periods it pushes them in their trucks in the early morning traffic which is a safety concern and it raises safety risks.”
Additionally, the changes implemented on July 1, 2013, according to Logistics Management, have been credited by some with lowering industry productivity and contributing to an already-tightened capacity problem. The issue with capacity, which has also been coping with an industry-wide driver shortage, has resulted in higher operational costs for both shippers and carriers.
Will your business be affected?
Right now, it is difficult to predict how the market will react to the temporary suspension of the restart rules. In the short-term, transportation capacity across the industry might experience a slight relief.
However, it’s important to remember that the current restart suspension is just one factor out of many that affects the transportation industry. Planning ahead by securing truckload capacity is one alternative to betting on the future direction of congress and the FMCSA that can be predicted.
To learn more about the FMCSA’s HOS rules, changes to the laws, and how Averitt is continuing to tackle increased regulation to provide quality service to customers, please visit our HOS information page.