Oops: Appropriations bill may have done away with 34-hour restart entirely

CHANNEL 19

 

Todd Dills|February 12, 2016

Turns out the 34-hour restart-related item inthe late-2015 Congressional appropriations bill may have done a little more than was intended. The intent of the item was to reinforce the stay of enforcement of limitations on use of the 34-hour restart that were implemented in 2013 and which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrationcontinues to study as to their effectiveness, as required by law.

But read what the appropriations bill actually states relative to the restart, and it becomes clear that not only did it extend that stay and put limitations on FMCSA’s ability to reinstate the restrictions — once-per-week use of the restart and inclusion of two 1-5 a.m. periods — it essentially nullified the restart entirely.

None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act or any other Act may be used to implement, administer, or enforce sections 395.3(c) and 395.3(d) of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, and such section shall have no force or effect on submission of the final report issued by the Secretary…

 

RELATED

 

Required 34-hour restart study finished, advances to next step, says FMCSA boss

That’s the key part of this, and what exactly does 395.3(c) and 395.3(d) refer to? Those are, essentially, everything in the regulations pertaining to the restart. And since the appropriations bill’s language doesn’t specify an alternative to those regulations, as the Truckload Carriers Association noted this afternoon in a message to members…

 

…then there is no restart provision to abide by.

 

That’s DOT’s recent interpretation at least, according to TCA. Now, before you go back to recapping entirely, take note of the rest of that message from TCA:

 

As discussions around this issue remain fluid, we are instructing our carrier members to keep their fleets operating as they have always been as members of Congress seek to reach an agreement on the best way to proceed. In an email to its Executive Committee, of which TCA is part, ATA has put forth options which they can use to negotiate with lawmakers. Of those options, the parties involved, including TCA representatives, have selected what ATA perceives to be the most flexible option on the table. The selected option consists of the following:

 

Total weekly cap of 75 hours in any 7 calendar days Retains 60/7, 70/8 rules.Taking an off-duty period of 34 consecutive hours or more allows the driver to exceed the 60/7 & 70/8 limits, up to the 75-hour, 7-calendar-day cap.

We’ll update more when we have word of any final solution, as changes wouldn’t go into effect until certified by DOT in concert with lawmakers. As TCA noted, “as of today, we are continuing to operate as we did yesterday.”

At once, reminds me of Tom Strese‘s sage words from about a year ago as the exemptions to the milk-and-cookie break really started to pile up: If we’re not careful, Strese said, “pretty soon our HOS rules are going to look like the tax code.”

Can you live without the restart? Keep it simple, so to speak — or as simple as recapping can be? Stay tuned for more…

Rollback of 34-hour restart regs further entrenched by Congressional budget deal.

FMCSA will have to prove its 2013-implemented rules are better for driver fatigue and highway safety than previous hours rules before they can go back …

 

C.R. England says goal in driver training exemption to get qualified truck operators working sooner

|June 19, 2015

C.R.-EnglandMajor refrigerated carrier C.R. England, one of the largest fleets in the U.S., was granted last week an exemption to one portion of federal rules dictating driver training. But, says C.R. England chief counsel TJ England, the exemption was not sought as an attempt to evade driver training regulations, as perceived by some, but is instead meant to help new entrant drivers start work quicker by avoiding unnecessary red tape.

“A lot of confusion exists with our exemption request,” he said this week. “People think this is an attempt to try to escape some sort of training or safety requirement or diminish training or safety — and that’s not the case at all.”

The only new entrant drivers that fall under the exemption, England says, are those who have completed all necessary skills tests and written tests and who have a commercial learner’s permit, but simply haven’t been to their home state “to stand in a line at the DMV,” England said, to receive their CDL.

“They’ve met all the same requirements” as an actual CDL holder, he said. “There are no more requirements and no more testing. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have asked for [the exemption].”

The waiver granted to C.R. England this week by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration allows new drivers, who have documentation that they’ve passed written and skills tests, to operate a commercial truck without a CDL-licensed driver-trainer in the front seat, as required by federal regulations.

The driver-trainer would still be in the vehicle, according to C.R. England’s exemption application and FMCSA’s waiver, but he or she could be in the sleeper. C.R. England said in its original application for the exemption in December, and TJ England told Overdrive this week, that the exemption will allow the fully trained, learner’s permit-holding drivers to work in a team operation until they can be routed to their home state to obtain their CDL.England said upcoming changes to CDL issuance rules, set to go into effect July 8, make it more difficult for drivers to get to their CDL-issuing state — their home state — to receive their actual CDL card. England likened the changes to a student who goes to school outside of his or her home state, but must return home to obtain a diploma before being able to work a job.

England said while FMCSA’s intentions with the rule changes are good — reducing CDL fraud — one key “unintended consequence” limits states’ ability to grant temporary CDLs, which would allow new entrant drivers to drive and carriers to route them to their home state to receive their permanent CDL before the temporary would expire.

“We didn’t like [how the new rules] unfairly impeded out of state drivers and made it more difficult for them to get a CDL and get to work,” he said. “What we wanted was to level the playing field between in state and out of state driver applicants, so when they were qualified and had met all the standards, they were then able to drive.”

Related

Major carrier allowed to skip certain driver training regs

Under the terms of the exemption, a learner’s permit holder who has passed a CDL skills test may drive a truck and trailer for C.R. …

At least 30 hours behind the wheel: Pre-CDL driver-training rulemaking committee issues ‘consensus’ recommendation

Two dissenting votes on the committee — from NASTC and ATA — open the door for FMCSA to not pursue an training rulemaking, but signs …

FMCSA to press states on CDL program compliance

|November 12, 2014

  

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking approval for an information collection request in which it plans to question states on their progress of complying with Congressionally required upkeep of CDL-issuing agencies.

Related

FMCSA to survey new CDL holders for long-awaited driver training rule

The agency announced this week its intentions to survey recently licensed truck operators as part of the data gathering process in producing an entry level …

The 2012 highway funding act MAP-21 requires states to submit to the Department of Transportation actions they plan to take to “address any deficiencies in [their] commercial driver’s license program, as identified by [the DOT] in the most recent audit of the program,” according to a Federal Register entry scheduled for Nov. 13 publication.The MAP-21 stipulations are aimed at state agencies’ notifications and record-keeping of testing, licensing, violations, convictions and disqualifications, FMCSA says.

States must submit their plans by Sept. 30, 2015.

Related

‘If you can’t shift, you can’t drive!’ — Readers react on transmission transition in driver training

Is more uptake of automatic transmissions the future of the industry? Most readers weighed in on the side of manual learning in driver training, but …

The agency is accepting public comment on the request before sending it to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for approval.The agency will start collecting public comments Nov. 13 on regulations.gov. Use the Docket Number FMCSA-2014-0133 to find the docket and to comment. Comments will be accepted for 60 days.

For the information request its seeking approval for, FMCSA says it will send each state a spreadsheet or PDF that state licensing agencies must complete and return.

States must note deficiencies discovered in the most recent DOT audit of their agency and give a detailed plan on how they can come into compliance, FMCSA’s notice says.

Agency stops enforcing break requirement for short haulers

| August 07, 2013

 

hours truck stopThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced it is no longer enforcing the mandatory 30-minute break required by the current hours of service rule in light of a court ruling last week that vacated that portion of the rule.

The agency said that as of Aug. 2 the break, which was required after eight on-duty hours for all drivers, will no longer apply to short haulers, which are defined as all drivers (including CDL holders) who operate within 100 air-miles of their normal work reporting location or non-CDL drivers who operate within a 15o-mile radius of the location where they report for duty.

All other portions of the current hours rule were upheld, including the rule that a driver’s 34-hour workweek restart include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and the limit of using the 34-hour restart just once per 160 hours.