On December 10th, President Obama signed into law the bill clarifying the two possible outcomes for the 34-hour restart, which was unintentionally jeopardized by Congress a year ago. For now, drivers may continue to operate as they have since December 2014, using one or more 34-hour restarts per week excluding a mandatory period of 1 AM – 5 AM.
However, if the forthcoming study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) determines that the rules active from July 1, 2013 to December 2014 “demonstrate statistically significant improvement in all outcomes related to safety, operator fatigue, driver health and longevity, and work schedules, in comparison to…drivers who operated under the restart provisions in effect on June 30, 2013,” those rules would resume, requiring a 34-hour restart which includes two periods from 1 AM to 5 AM and a limit of one restart per week. If the study finds no difference between the two rule sets, then there will be no changes to the current requirements.
The issues surrounding the 34-hour restart began when Congress suspended the 2013 changes to the HOS requirements and requested a study assessing the efficacy of both approaches, but neglected to designate which rules would go into effect following the study’s conclusions.
The issue was further complicated in December, 2015 when language was inadvertently included in a bill which could potentially eliminate 34-hour restarts altogether following the study. The new law resolves the problem by clarifying the original 2014 bill’s goal and nullifies the 2015 mistake.
Earlier this year, the FMCSA reported that the data collection phase for the study had concluded. It is unknown when the study’s results will be released.