Strict rules created by the Obama administration have been galling the American trucking industry since their implementation. Congress is now looking at making these rules more flexible for drivers, with an effort led by Congressman Brian Babin of Texas. James Jaillet writes at Commercial Carrier Journal:
A bill filed in the U.S. House Thursday by Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) would allow drivers to take one break per day — of up to three hours — that does not count against their 14-hour on-duty allotment. The bill mirrors a petition filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association last month with FMCSA, which calls for a pause button for drivers’ daily 14-hour clock of up to three hours and the removal of the mandatory 30-minute break required by current hours regs.
The Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers Act (REST Act) would still require drivers to log 10 consecutive off-duty hours before beginning their 14-hour on-duty period.
Babin’s bill is backed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
The bill’s filing comes as FMCSA is in the process of studying adding hours of service flexibility via split-sleeper berth options, but the research and regulatory process to institute such changes would likely take years, should the agency pursue it.
Last March, under a Congressional directive, FMCSA removed the requirement that drivers’ 34-hour restarts include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods, which is a core component of an hours of service overhaul instituted in July 2013. The mandatory 30-minute break was also added then. The 30-minute break remains in place, despite other portions of the rule being nixed by Congress.
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