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No Safety Improvement Came from 34-Hour Restart

A 2013 rule from the Department of Transportation (DOT) required truckers to take their 34-hour restarts at specific times. Among other things, the law mandated drivers conduct their restart during a period that included two consecutive 1 am to 5 am timeframes, based upon their usual time zone. This controversial regulation was later suspended by a Senate Appropriations Committee in 2014 so a study could be performed. The results of that study are now in, and show the ruling had no impact on safety whatsoever.

The DOT performed a study on two groups of drivers-one that followed the 2013 ruling and one that did not. Various types of fleets such as regional, long-haul, and short-haul were included in each group as well. The results from the months-long study showed that there was no distinguishable difference between the two when it came to safety awareness, fatigue, and alertness.

In a press release, the Department of Transportation claimed they were unable to “identify a net benefit” to drivers in the way of improved operations, safety, or health. But they did note there were unintended consequences from enforcing the new law, namely greater congestion on American highways during the day.

For now, the stay imposed by Congress is still in effect and is expected to remain that way. After submitting a final report to Congress, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will need to issue a formal notice to permanently eliminate the rule from the books.

Although drivers are excluded from the restrictive 34-hour restart, we will continue to monitor the situation, and will let you know of any breaking developments right away.


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