Thursday, September 4, 2013 - Written by Cliff Lynch.
A few weeks ago, we touched on the recent hours of service ruling in legislation on our blog.
After several years of negotiation, legislation, and litigation, on July 1, the revised hours of service rules for truck drivers (HOS) became effective. Many breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s over, finally.” I wouldn’t count on it.
The most controversial change was in the “34 hour restart rule” which now requires a driver to include in his/her 34 hours, two periods off between the hours of 1:00 am And 5:00 am.This provision was the result of a laboratory study that indicated daytime sleep is not as beneficial as sleep during the night hours. Last year’s highway bill included a provision that the FMCSA must confirm these results in a field study, but that analysis will not be completed until later this year. Four Republican Congressmen have written to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx complaining that the study should have been completed before the new rules became effective and asking him to move the study along. They also asked him to respond by September 12.
One of the correspondents, Representative Hanna R-NY, introduced an amendment that would reverse the HOS rules, and cut off funding for their implementation and enforcement. House leadership withdrew the bill, but Hanna promises to pursue it.
In my humble opinion, the time has come to end the controversy and move ahead. The amendment was supported by several responsible, knowledgeable parties including UPS and ATA, so it is not one of the partisan wild cards we often see played in Washington. However, carriers have spent millions of dollars implementing systems to manage operations under the new rules, and we certainly don’t want to change them again. It is also a little frightening when Congress gets into a rather complicated transportation area such as this. I doubt if half the House membership even knows what a 34 hour restart is.
About the author: Cliff Lynch is a thought leader in the logistics industry. Clifford F. Lynch of C. F. Lynch & Associates has provided management advisory services in logistics since 1993.