Hours of Service Study Update 10/8/2015

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced October 1st that it has concluded the data collection phase of the congressionally mandated Hours of Service study. The study investigates the effect of two suspended hours of service rule provisions on over-the-road safety and driver fatigue.

The two provisions that are now suspended are:

  1. Drivers are limited to one 34-hours restart within 168 hours or seven days.
  2. Drivers must include at least two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods of-duty when taking a 34-hour restart.

Congress suspended these provisions in December of 2014 after many in the logistics industry including the American Trucking Association (ATA) objected. Enforcement of these rules will remain suspended as required by Congress until the FMCSA submits the Hours of Service final report to Congress.

Pending Legislation

Both chambers of Congress have already drafted legislation for their versions of the DOT funding bills that include language stating that the FMCSA’s study must clearly show that these rules increased highway safety and reduced driver fatigue before the rules will be reinstated.

However, at issue is whether Congress will pass the DOT funding bill before the FMCSA study is released; other pending legislation has taken priority over the DOT funding and passage of the bill may be delayed.

If the study is completed before Congress passes the DOT funding bill many in the industry speculate that the suspended rules may be put back into place at least until the DOT funding is made into law.

Effect of Suspended Rules

If these suspended rules were to be enforced again, truck drivers who normally like to start their routes Sunday afternoons would instead be delayed until 5am Monday morning. This puts them in rush hour traffic potentially reducing the distance they are able to drive within their total available hours of service. If it takes drivers longer to get where they need to go overall capacity will decline, and freight costs may rise.

It is a complicated and fluid situation which is why Odyssey will continue to monitor the changes and update you as needed.