The late summer and early fall of 2015 could be a confusing time to be a trucker. We may, or may not, see the return of unpopular aspects of the Hours of Service rule, depending on the results of two Department of Transportation reports. Then again, simply publishing the reports may reinstate the rules. As we said, it’s going to be confusing.
First, a brief recap. The regulations in question require drivers to spend 34-hours off the clock after a 70-hour workweek. This “restart” had to include two 1:00 to 5:00 am periods, and could only be used once a week. Truckers weren’t happy with the regulations, which limited the flexibility of their schedules, but these were the rules.
In December of 2014, President Obama signed the Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations bill. Included in the bill was a suspension of these regulations. A 34-hour restart is still required, but time off no longer has to include two 1:00 to 5:00am periods. Drivers can used any 34-hour consecutive time period as a restart, and may restart their clocks more than once a week. Time on the road remains, as it has in the past, at a maximum of eleven hours a day.
So far so good. Some unpopular regulations are suspended, and drivers have more control over their work schedules. But there’s a catch. The suspension is only in place until the Department of Transportation releases two reports on the cost and safety benefits of the suspended rules on September 30, 2015. Now, the wording in the appropriation bill suggests the suspended regulations will reactivate with the issuance of the reports, not based on the reports’ actual results.
This means that even if the reports agree the regulations should remain suspended, the regulation will kick back in with the reports’ publication. Or not. It depends on how the powers-that-be choose to read the bill’s wording.
Government oversight at its finest folks! We suggest drivers pay close attention to changes in the Hours of Service this year, because the regulations governing your restarts could change several times before the year is out.