Congress is set to pass an omnibus spending bill that would fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2016. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) portion of the bill contains a provision regarding one aspect of the 34 hour restart provision in the Hours of Service (HOS) regulation. The specific provision is one in which FMCSA had mandated that the 34 hour restart must contain two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods.
Congress temporarily suspended that requirement last year, meaning that the restart could be used during any 34 hour period. The language in this omnibus bill requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to demonstrate a statistically significant improvement in “all outcomes related to safety, operator fatigue, driver health and longevity, and work schedules…” before the1 a.m. to 5 a.m. requirement is reinstated.
This is important because FMCSA specifically cited driver health as the justification for rewriting the rule and including that provision. This language would effectively permanently suspend the consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. and 168 hour/week restart provisions.
The language states that the provision is suspended until FMCSA “establishes that commercial motor vehicle drivers who operated under the restart provisions in effect between July 1, 2013, and the day before the date of enactment of such Public Law demonstrated statistically significant improvement in all outcomes related to safety, operator fatigue, driver health and longevity, and work schedules, in comparison to commercial motor vehicle drivers who operated under the restart provisions in effect on June 30, 2013.”
Once the spending bill is passed by both the U.S. House and Senate, it will be sent to President Obama who is expected to sign it into law.