As 2014 wound to a close, there were an on-going effort to encourage the federal government to uphold support for the 34-Hour Restart Rule, which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration passed in July 2013. Through my colleagues at APITLA and the American Association of Justice, we pressed our political leaders to say “Yes” to the safety of the motoring public. Unfortunately, FY 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill was signed into law late on December 16, 2014 — and the 34-Hour Restart Rule was suspended.
34-Hour Restart Rule Suspended until the end of September
The new law which passed late last year will remain in effect until September 30, 2015, or until the FMCSA is able to finish a detail study of truck drivers in their working environment (rather than in a laboratory setting.) According to the Ominbus Appropriations bill, the FMCSA must start the study within 90 days of the law coming into effect.
In the meantime, prior to the end of September of this year, FMCSA will be required to revert to the 2013 provisions for use of the restart. It should be noted that the FMCSA is not required to rewrite the 34-Hour restart rule; it simply cannot implement it.
FMCSA has indicated it is preparing a Federal Register Notice to advise the public that it is suspending enforcement of the restart restrictions. FMCSA also stated it is working with state and federal motor carrier enforcement personnel to ensure a smooth transition back to the prior version of the 34-hour restart rule.
While the suspension of the 34-hour restart rule is a setback for the safety of motorists on our public highways, it is just that – a setback. I look forward to working through APITLA and the American Association for Justice to the the rule implemented nine months from now.