In late January, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released the results of its field study on the influence of the Hours Of Service rule’s controversial “restart” rule on drivers’ attentiveness and driving behavior, concluding that the rule made drivers less crash-prone. The restart rule, in effect since July 1, 2013, stipulates two overnight rest periods for drivers working 70 hours a week
Trucking interests, however, immediately disputed FMCSA’s inference. The American Trucking Associations asserted that “the short report is lacking critical analyses on several important issues,” specifically pointing to the real-world safety implications of putting more trucks on the road during daytime hours, when more passenger vehicles are on the road; while the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association stated that the study “does not appear to be representative of those actually affected by the newer hours of service.”
Rep. Richard Hanna (R-New York) was more blunt: “This half-baked study only underscores the need to legislatively delay the rule and have [the Government Accountability Office] conduct an independent analysis of the study so we can get a credible account of what this rule will truly mean for the safety of truckers, commuters, and businesses.” On October 31, 2013, Rep. Hanna introduced the TRUE Safety Act (HR 3413) calling for such a GAO study and to suspend the rule in the meantime. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) subsequently introduced similar legislation (S 1891) in the Senate.