In 2013, Obama signed into law a regulation that required drivers who work 70 or more hours in a week to rest for 34 hours straight, with the hours between 1 AM and 5 AM spent sleeping. Each year following has seen the trucking industry’s lobbying to strike down the invasive changes under the premise that they increased rush hour traffic, disrupted driver sleep schedules, and increase the risk of trucking accidents.
On December 9th, just before a looming government shutdown, Congress passed a measure that included a rollback to pre-2013 regulations regarding hours of service restart and eliminates the key regulation that many trucking companies have been struggling with.
Safety organizations that pushed the original regulation through claimed that it helped truckers avoid drowsy driving. However, trucking companies have found that the approach fails to account for the vast variation in driver schedules. CEO of Doug Andrus Distributing, Jason Andrus remarked that “The practical effect was that if you didn’t get off until 2 a.m., for example, you would end up taking that whole night off then needing to start those two mandatory rest periods the next night. You would end up taking 51 hours off to get that mandatory reset.”
Many of the trucking companies didn’t object to the 34-hour reset; it was the mandatory 1-5 AM sleeping period that created a massive headache for drivers, shippers, and dispatchers when scheduling long haul trips. “By getting rid of that 1-5 rule it gives us the flexibility to be well-rested and deliver great service,” Andrus said.
“The entire industry will now be able to comply with this rule thanks to a common sense approach championed by a bipartisan group of legislators,” said American Trucking Association’s President and CEO Chris Spear.
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