Looking Beyond Written Regulations to Stay Safe
On December 16, 2014, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 was signed. The Act effectively suspended certain provisions of the “Hours-of-Service of Drivers” final rule for utilizing the 34-hour restart period that originally went into effect on July 1, 2013.
Specifically, drivers no longer have to follow two original regulation parameters:
- Must include two periods from 1:00 a.m. – 5:00 a.m. (home terminal time).
- May only be used once per week (once every 168 hours), calculated from the beginning of the previous restart period.
As a result, the trucking industry reverts to the rules dictated by the 34 hour restart that were in place prior to July 2013, meaning the following are reinstated:
- Any period of seven consecutive days may end with the beginning of any off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours – or –
- Any period of eight consecutive days may end with the beginning of any off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours.
So what does this mean for the short term? It means during all investigations, safety audits or road side inspections completed by FMCSA personnel or state transport officers, no citations will be issued for violations of the 60/70 rule based on a driver’s failure to comply with the 2-overnight requirement for the 34 hour restart or failure to observe the once-a-week restart limit.
But, of course, no one should rely on regulations alone when considering what’s best for an individual driver. Despite suspension of the more recent parameters – done to provide more opportunity for study of their efficacy – it remains important for drivers, with support from their companies, to follow reasonable guidelines for rest and recovery. It should never require a written rule to follow common sense for restarts based on individual training, driver ability, health concerns, road conditions, equipment demands or other factors. As always with driver welfare, never leave it to the police alone to police safety. The life you save may be your own, or that of another.