Hours-of-Service Reform Considered by Congress – The REST Act

A bill has recently been filed in the United States House by Representative Brian Babin (R-Texas). The law proposed to Congress could permit truck drivers to take up to three consecutive hours of breaks per day. Taking this rest break would not count against the 14-hour on-duty allowance. This bill corresponds with the petition filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) in February. The petition requests a “pause button” for truck drivers’ daily 14-hour for up to three hours and removed the required 30-minute rest break. The Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers (REST) Act would still compel drivers to log ten consecutive off-duty hours before they can begin their 14-hour on-duty period. OOIDA supports Babin’s bill.

OOIDA’s Safety Concerns

OOIDA states the current guidelines are

  • Incredibly complicated
  • Allows for no flexibility
  • Limits individual drivers
  • Display the physical abilities of different drivers

Todd Spencer, acting president and CEO of OOIDA, stated: “They force drivers to be on the road when they are tired or fatigued, during busy travel times and adverse weather and road conditions, or when they simply aren’t feeling well.” Members of OOIDA see the HOS rules as making truck drivers obey a controlling agenda that risks their safety and the safety of other travelers. Spencer also stated, “Truck drivers’ schedules are at the mercy of shippers, receivers, weather, congestion, and other obstacles to operate safely. We are in a situation where we have never had more regulations and greater enforcement and compliance with those regulations. Crash numbers are going in the wrong direction; it’s time for a new approach.”

Senators’ Letters to FMCSA

Thirty of the United States Senators wrote a letter to Raymond Martinez, the head of FMCSA, regarding the changes in the existing hours-of-service regulations. The letter states how the HOS regulations do not specify the flexibility for a safe operation for commercial vehicles. The senators want FMCSA to find different ways to accommodate independent drivers. However, the letter does not state any suggestions on how these changes should be made.

The Senators hope the FMCSA “will be able to improve regulations and address issues within HOS regulations for all drivers, including long-haul drivers, short-haul drivers, agricultural, and livestock haulers.”

ELD Mandate

It is essential that the ELD rule does not change the HOS regulations and rules. ELDs, in fact, oblige truck drivers to follow the current laws in place.

The letter referred to bill H.R. 5417, The Responsible and Effective Standard for Truckers, also known as the REST Act, which still rests in the committee’s hands and is waiting for the voting process from the United States House of Representatives.

You can read the entire letter here.