Groups praise amendment to suspend 2013 restart changes

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Groups representing segments of the trucking industry have been quick to praise passage of an amendment to the Transportation Department funding bill that would suspend the 2013-imposed restart provisions in hours-of-service regulations for one year.

The amendment was proposed by Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, and was supported by a bipartisan vote of 21-9 in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association applauded the committee for the amendment.

“We thank Senator Collins and the supportive members of the committee for their work on this important amendment,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “Truckers have long pointed out the negative impacts of the 2013 changes on their ability to get rest, stay out of busy city traffic, spend time at home, and make a family-supporting income.”

OOIDA and others within the trucking industry have clearly communicated all the shortcomings of the analysis of the new rules by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the association added.

“The agency cannot simply regulate based upon guesses,” said Spencer. “And it should not make a regulatory decision and then create data after the fact that supports the decision. Sadly, the problems with the hours-of-service rulemaking are common within the FMCSA and we hope that today’s vote is a sign that Congress will be taking a deeper look into the way the agency conducts its business.”

American Trucking Associations leaders likewise voice their appreciation for the committee’s willingness to address “the unjustified changes” to the restart provisions of the hours-of-service rules.

 “Since these rules were proposed in 2010, ATA has maintained that they were unsupported by science, and since they were implemented in 2013 the industry and economy have experienced substantial negative effects as a result,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “Today, thanks to Senator Collins’ leadership, we are a step closer to reversing these damaging, unjustified regulations.”

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ATA contends the new restart rules push more trucks onto the road during daytime hours, a consequence the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration failed to fully analyze from a safety standpoint.

“America expects its freight to be moved, and these new rules prevent some drivers from taking a restart over the weekend,” said ATA Chairman Phil Byrd, president of Bulldog Hiway Express, based in Charleston, S.C. “As a result, they need to take their restart midweek leading to shipping delays and costs.

“And if you’re fortunate enough to be able to take your restart over a weekend, it exacerbates congestion because this regulation dumps concentrated amounts of trucks on the highway system at 5:01 a.m. Monday morning when America is heading off to work and school.”

The committee vote is not the end of the debate, suggests Dave Osiecki, ATA executive vice president and head of national advocacy.

“But thanks to the hard work of ATA’s members, the professional staff, ATA’s federation partners and the courage and leadership of Sen. Collins and others on Capitol Hill, we are one step closer to reversing these damaging regulations,” Osiecki said.