FMCSA Will Not Reinstate Hours of Service Rule Anytime Soon

The U.S. truck driver hours-of-service rules suspended by Congress won’t be put back in place any time soon, and not without consultation with trucking “stakeholders,” a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) official told trucking and logistics executives. “We are continuing with that suspension, even though we’re into fiscal year 2016,” Larry Minor, associate administrator for policy at the FMCSA, told the more than 500 trucking and logistics professionals attending the SMC3 JumpStart 2016 conference in Atlanta.

The suspended provisions of the 2011 rule required drivers using the 34-hour restart to begin a new work week to include two back-to-back 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods in that restart. That requirement made it much more difficult for drivers to actually restart in 34 hours. This partially contributed to the tightening of truck capacity in 2013 and 2014.  The new rules cut the number of hours some truck drivers could work in a week and the number of turns they could complete, which resulted in a reduction of carrier productivity and contributing to higher truck rates.

In its fiscal 2015 appropriations law, Congress suspended restrictions on the 34-hour restart provision of the hours-of-service rules introduced in 2011. In 2013, they implemented a requirement that the FMCSA study the safety impact of those provisions and report to Congress. Minor went on to predict that this process will require at least several months before moving forward.  “In the event we ever get to the point where we’re going to reinstate those provisions, we will definitely give everybody a heads up and publish a notice in the Federal Register about how we’re going to go forward,” Minor said. Stay tuned as more develops.