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By: Marc Bardack
Last week, the Senate passed a transportation funding bill providing for a change in hours of service rules for truck drivers. The change proposed in the bill depends on the outcome of a currently pending safety fitness determination study being conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In the Senate bill, there would either be a return to the now suspended 2013 34-hour restart rules or a return to the 2011 34-hour rules, but with a cap of 73 driving hours per 7 day period.
Meanwhile, in the House, the House Appropriations Committee has approved its 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill (http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-114hr-sc-ap-fy2017-transhud-subcommitteedraft.pdf) which simply restores the 34-hour restart rules in effect on December 26, 2011. The bill specifically does away with the requirement of two off-duty periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 am and the prohibition on use of more than one restart during a consecutive 168-hour period – requirements from the 2013 rules which were subsequently suspended.
While much work and reconciling needs to be done before a bill can be sent to the President, it seems clear that changes and clarifications to the 34-hour restart rules are coming soon. Carriers and their drivers should monitor this legislation to ensure timely compliance with federal regulations.