Readers may or may not be aware of the current tension in the trucking industry over changes to federal hours-of-service rules that went into full effect last summer. Hours-of-service rules, for those who don’t know, are regulations which dictate how many hours truckers can work per day and per week, and how frequently they must take rest breaks.
One of the changes made to the regulations concerns the 34-hour restart rule. While the old rule allowed truckers to restart their work week after a 34-hour break, the new rule was changed so that truckers are now required to take two rest breaks between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. before restarting their work week.
The change, according to the trucking industry has led to decreased productivity and more roadway congestion—and increase risk of truck accidents—due to more truckers driving during daytime hours. Because of this, the industry has been pushing Congress to suspend the rule. In response, safety groups have been pushing back.
One thing opponents of changing the current restart rule are now pointing to is a new study which shows that 80 percent of Americans oppose Congress changing the current restart rule. That study was conducted by Lake Research Partners and is being promoted by Teamsters and other groups. The trucking industry, however, claims that the survey is misleading and unhelpful to promoting highway safety.
It isn’t clear how much impact the study will have, at all, on Congress’ decision to suspend the current rule, but if and until the rule is changed, truckers are still bound by the current rule. Motorists who are harmed by a trucker who fails to follow the hours-of-service rules can and should expect to be held accountable.
Source: Overdrive, “80 percent of public oppose overturning current hours rule, trucking questions study,” October 17, 2014.