34-hour restart regs rebuffed by Congress in 2014 officially nixed from rulebook

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will on Thursday officially remove limitations for the use of a 34-hour restart enacted in 2013.

The regulations, which have not been enforced since December 2014, limited truck drivers to one restart per week and required the restart to include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods. Those regulations were suspended by Congress in December 2014, though they technically remained on the books.

FMCSA on Thursday will publish a notice in the Federal Register to formally bury the provisions.

When Congress suspended the regulations, it also called for FMCSA to conduct a field study to determine whether the regs should go back into effect. In March 2017, the agency published the results of that study, concluding that the regs provided no real safety benefit.

FMCSA updated its website in March of 2017 to reflect that the regs would remain suspended, but the language still remained in the Code of Federal Regulations. FMCSA says in its notice, slated for publication Thursday, that the provisions “could cause confusion for some stakeholders.”

The final rule officially restores the CFR Section 395.3(c) to the pre-2013 provisions. FMCSA says the changes are technical only and have no legal effect, since the provisions haven’t been in effect since December 2014.

The 34-hour restart regulations will now simply read, “Any period of seven (or eight) consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours.”

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