34-hour restart regs, suspended since 2014, officially buried by FMCSA

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The limitations for truck drivers’ use of a 34-hour restart enacted in 2013 will officially be removed from the federal rulebook by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Thursday.

The regulations, which have not been enforced since December 2014, limited 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, Sept. 12, will publish a final rule 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 following the release of the report 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.”