US Senate debating hours of service amendment

June 18, 2014

Debate currently is underway in the US Senate on an amendment that would suspend two provisions of the 34-hour restart provision contained in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours-of-service rules. Opposition to the amendment is being led by the Teamsters union and various anti-truck groups.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment introduced by Sen Susan Collins (R-ME) at the request of the American Trucking Associations, National Tank Truck Carriers, and other Hours of Service Coalition partners. The amendment to suspend two provisions of the 34-hour restart provision passed through the committee with a bipartisan vote of 21-9.

The provisions in question limit drivers to one re-start per week and require that the re-start include two periods of rest between 1:00 am and 5:00 am have caused unjustified harm to the trucking industry and the industry’s many professional drivers. Yet, by its own startling admission, the safety impacts of these restrictions were never fully studied by FMCSA prior to issuing the rule, according to Daniel R Furth, NTTC president.

The full Senate currently is considering the FY 2015 DOT-HUD Appropriations bill, which includes Sen Collins' amendment. While 21-9 committee vote on June 12 to include the amendment was overwhelmingly bipartisan, it is anticipated that another amendment to strike all or part of the Collins' language will be offered on the Senate floor during the current debate. A vote to strike the amendment could come any time during today’s debate.

Anti-truck special interest advocacy groups and the Teamsters are working hard to get the Collins amendment removed from the bill. The Hours of Service Coalition continues to urge truck fleet executives to contact their Senators and explain the negative impact that the 34-hour restart is having on fleet operations, carrier safety profiles, and drivers' quality of life.

This issue has drawn increased scrutiny from the media and the public due to the recent accident involving a well-known celebrity. Yet, despite the scrutiny, the facts about HOS and the restart provisions remain obscure and confusing to the public at large.

NTTC Chairman Dean Kaplan had the opportunity to set the record straight in a recent television interview with the local ABC affiliate