In July of 2013, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) passed a bill changing the rules for driver hours-of-service. The 2013 bill requiring all drivers to take a 34 hour break after working 70 hours. The bill also stated that the break must include two periods of time between 1 am and 5 am, which are considered peak hours of sleep.
December 16, President Obama signed a bill that stops the enforcement of the requirement that a drivers 34 hour restart include two 1 am to 5 am time periods. Drivers will still be required to stop for at least 34 hours per week and work no more than 70 hours between 34 hour restarts. However, the new bill allows for drivers to take more than one 34 hour break per week, restarting their available 70 hour work week.
Many industry experts and analysts claimed that the FMCSA decided on the 2013 H.O.S change before thoroughly studying the impact it would have on drivers and the transportation industry in general. After many petitions and meetings, the President and Congress decided to repeal the 2013 bill, for now.
The FMCSA has until September 2015 to provide evidence that the initial H.O.S. change had a positive impact on safety and health on drivers and pedestrian motorists. During the next few months the FMCSA will be conducting a study of drivers. Two groups will be studied, one group that requires their 34 hour restart to include two 1 am to 5 am periods (2013 bill) and one group that does not (new bill). They will study the impact that each has on drivers fatigue levels, health, overall awareness, and critical safety events.
The DOT will be monitoring the study to ensure that the FMCSA is unbiased in the study.
The new bill has a chance to be repealed , and the old bill re-enacted, but until that decision is made, drivers will no longer be required to have two 1 am to 5 am periods included in their 34 hour restart.