HOS Victory for Truckers – It literally took an act of Congress to get it done, but truckers finally have temporary relief from the onerous hours of service restart provisions. Specifically, the legislation suspends the requirement that all qualifying restarts contain two consecutive periods of time between 1am and 5am, and that it can only be used once every 168 hours (or seven days). In other words, the restart rule reverts back to the simple 34 hour restart in effect from 2003 to June 2013. This provision was included in a $1.1 trillion dollar that keeps the federal government operating until September of next year.
The 34 hour restart rule reverted to its pre-July 1, 2013 version when President signed the bill into law in December. This temporary reprieve lasts until September 30, 2015, the end of the federal fiscal year.
The legislation also directs the Department of Transportation to conduct a study comparing the effectiveness of the 34 hour restart rules in place before July 1, 2013 with those that took effect after. The industry contends that this research will demonstrate that the “new” restart rule did not account for offsetting negative safety impacts. (See page XX for details and companion article on the safety issues involved)
Everyone Gets the Game Ball – Football teams have a tradition of awarding a game ball to the heroes of the game. When it comes to this victory, we need lots of game balls. The ATA quarterbacked this effort across the goal line. State associations, like the MTA, provided essential blocking and tackling in the field, getting setting up meetings with members of congress. Truckers, many from Minnesota, carried the ball by providing the data and telling their story
Success a Year in the Making – Work to repeal the restart provision started as soon as it became effective. MTA members from the 1st Congressional District met with then-FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro in December 2013. Our message was simple. The restart provisions of the new hours of service rules were causing major operational disruptions and putting more trucks on the road during the morning rush hour. Unfortunately, that meeting made it clear the agency was not going to relent, so we moved onto a legislative strategy.
Call on Washington Matters – We visited all ten of our Minnesota delegation offices when we went to Washington in April. The HOS restart was brought up in each meeting. I want to thank these members of the Minnesota delegation for voting yes on the appropriation bill:
· Erik Paulsen
· John Kline
Too Little Too Late? – By anyone’s calculation, 18 months is ridiculously long to resolve this critical issue for a major U.S. industry. Carriers, drivers, dispatchers and technology vendors have already changed operations once. This do-over will be costly and likely confusing, given its temporary nature. But we believe we stand on firm grand and have great hopes the study will reinforce what we know to be happening on the road. And, when Congress takes action, agencies must comply AND consider which way the wind is blowing as they move forward. During 2015, the MTA will continue to pursue strategies in an effort to keep the simple 34 hour restart rule in place for a longer period of time.
The Big Lesson – Whether it is lobbying in St. Paul or Washington, D.C., persistence pays off. A slowly grilled bratwurst is wonderful to eat, but you don’t want to watch it being made. Laws are like that. Not pretty to watch and often painfully slow, but sometimes well worth wait. We need to make this change permanent, But, for now, enjoy this victory, truckers!