There’s been so much to talk about, it’s tough to remember where we are in the latest discussion around Hours of Service (HOS) rules for commercial truck drivers. Here is a brief summary:
From July 2013 to December 2014, drivers needed to incorporate two provisions regarding the 34-hour restart part of the HOS rules:
- Within the mandatory 34-hour restart, FMCSA said drivers had to include two 1:00 a.m. – 5:00 a.m. time periods
- Drivers could only restart once per week
As part of the December 2014 legislation to fund the federal government (a.k.a., the Omnibus bill), Senator Susan Collins (ME) championed an immediate suspension of these rules and required FMCSA to conduct an in-depth study on these two provisions. However, the legislation did not tie the conclusions of the study to the reinstatement of the suspended provisions (I wrote a blog about this confusion in September 2015).
FMCSA has not yet released the HOS study that was required in December 2014, which allowed Congress to provide more specific instructions around the study. In December 2015, Congress added language that states:
The study must “demonstrate statistically significant improvement in all outcomes related to safety, operator fatigue, driver health and longevity, and work schedules, in comparison to commercial motor vehicle drivers who operated under the restart provisions in effect on June 30, 2013.”
These new requirements make the HOS study much more complicated. How do you prove that two very specific provisions in place for only 18 months directly caused an improvement in safety? Can you separate these two rules from weather or the economy?
If the data can clearly demonstrate that the two suspended provisions meet all the requirements outlined by Congress in the latest Omnibus bill, then we could see the suspended provisions reinstated as soon as this summer. However, if the statistical case to reinstate the July 1, 2013, rules is complicated or in question, current HOS rules could be in place unchanged through all of 2016 as the study continues to remain unpublished or is challenged by industry.
One final note. The C.H. Robinson Foundation is once again offering a Truckload Contract Carrier Scholarship Program. Up to ten $2,500 college scholarships will be awarded to qualified students of employees at eligible contract carriers of C.H. Robinson. Applications for the 2016 scholarships will be accepted through February 15. Please visit the scholarship website to learn more about the program and the 2015 recipients.