By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory affairs & assistant general counsel, ARTBA

Joining with a broad-based coalition of 130 associations, ARTBA urged House Appropriations Committee leaders November 17 to continue preventing expansion of the federal hours of service rule for truck drivers.  The Committee is currently negotiating the final version of the FY2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) spending bill with their Senate counterparts.  In a letter, ARTBA and the other groups asked Committee leaders to retain language in the bill preventing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from implementing an expansion of the hours of service rule the agency first announced in 2011.  FMCSA’s rule revisions would require drivers to rest on two consecutive days between the hours of 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM in order to qualify for the 34-hour “restart” to their driving week.  Also under the revised rule, drivers could only utilize this restart once every seven days.

By inserting language in recent annual appropriations bills, Congress has prevented FMCSA from implementing these rule revisions until the agency conducts a study of the “operational, safety, health and fatigue aspects” of the new restart requirements.  Throughout this time, ARTBA has supported association coalition efforts to delay the rule changes until there is more demonstrable evidence it will improve safety.

Ultimately, ARTBA continues to advocate for a full exemption to the hours of service rule for the transportation construction industry, since its drivers generally do not make the long-haul trips on which the rule focuses.  Construction industry drivers currently enjoy a limited exemption, through which they can restart their workweek after 24 hours of rest if they meet certain conditions, including travel within a 50-mile radius.  ARTBA is supporting efforts to include a provision in the pending surface transportation reauthorization bill (which is separate from the appropriations process) that would expand eligibility for this limited exemption from 50 to 75 miles.

For more information on hours of service issues, contact me at ngoldstein@artba.org.