The recently signed bill to suspend the 34-hour restart Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulation brought with it a slew of headaches, especially for the trucking industry. But what should the industry takeaway from the recent updates and ongoing development? Here are key items to note during the process:
What Does the HOS 34-Hour Restart Suspension Mean?
The suspension of the 34-Hour Restart provision went into effect December 16th, 2014 and states that carriers are no longer required to implement two consecutive off-duty periods from 1:00 – 5:00 a.m. In addition, drivers are no longer limited to one 34-hour restart within 168 hours or 7-8 days (depending on the work week). This means that businesses that operate under the 34-hour rule no longer must abide by the previous provision. Enforcement of the 34-hour restart requirement has been suspended until a further study of the rule’s safety benefits is complete by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Until further notice, trucking businesses that use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to track their drivers’ hours of service should revert to the previous restart provisions that were in effect on June 30, 2013.
The FMCSA Study: What Is It?
The FMCSA’s study was created “to evaluate the effectiveness of the new 34-hour restart provision on driver fatigue” among other driver-related concerns, according to the administration’s Website. Note that 90 days after the President of the United States has signed the bill (March 16th, 2015), the Secretary of Transportation must put into effect a study about the operational impact related to the suspended provision. In order to be legitimate, the study must take into account a significant pool of drivers selected from small- to large-sized carriers that represent a variety of trucking categories to provide valid information.
Next, the study must compare data from drivers operating under the 34-hour restart rule against data from drivers operating under the rule that originated on July 1, 2013. The FMCSA plans to asses driver alertness, fatigue, and well-being, as well as safety events. Each of these metrics will be measured using state-of-the-art tools to best capture and record data. Lastly, the FMCSA has a total of 210 days (from the March 16th date) to conclude the study and generate a final report to send to Congress and publish for the masses.
Enforcement of the 34-Hour Restart Suspension: What to Expect
As expected during times of federal mandates, trucking businesses may experience disruptions to their operations as law enforcement agencies adapt to recent changes. Should a driver experience issues when on the road, carriers are advised to contact the commercial motor carrier safety program in their state’s Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP).
Note that although law enforcement may practice leniency towards carriers that use ELDs or electronic driver logs and driver profiles affected by the recent suspension of the 34-hour reset rule, companies that use paper logs are still expected to manually note all driver hours and statuses and maintain a law-abiding record of work hours.
ELD Providers: Who’s Doing What
The suspension recently went into effect which has ELD and electronic driver log providers scrambling to stay on their feet and meet regulation updates. The FMCSA has yet to determine a deadline for providers to develop a solution for their customers. However, some providers are already tackling the issue and creating interim or permanent fixes to the changes. Teletrac, along with other providers, is currently working on a solution to best assist their HOS customer base during this challenging process.
“Providers are constantly thinking about the changes and intelligently coming up with a solution that can be deployed at a much quicker pace when the FMCSA completes their data study, or when the date the terms expire for the suspension restart deadline comes around, regardless of the changes the federal government decides to implement,” said Ozzie Flores, product manager at Teletrac.
Ultimately, the best thing businesses can do is be patient and stay tuned to the latest news and updates. The more you know, the better you can prepare for any future mandates and changes coming your way.