Leaders of the American Trucking Associations thanked Congress for recognizing the harm done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 2013 hours-of-service restart restrictions and requiring the agency to meet an appropriate safety, driver health and driver longevity standard before re-imposing those restrictions.

“We’re pleased that in the omnibus spending compromise released [Dec. 16], Congress has seen fit to demand that FMCSA ‘show its work,’ before imposing unnecessary and onerous restrictions on the use of the 34-hour restart by commercial drivers,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “FMCSA foisted these restrictions on the industry without doing a proper investigation into how they might impact trucking safety and truck drivers’ health and longevity, so it is completely appropriate for Congress to establish a safety and health standard.”

In 2013, FMCSA required that drivers using a 34-hour restart to reset their weekly allotment of hours have two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. in their extended off-duty period and artificially limited the use of those extended rests to once a week. ATA believed at the time, and was shown to be correct based on American Transportation Research Institute analysis of FMCSA crash data, that these restrictions would push more truck traffic into riskier daytime hours, thus increasing – not decreasing – the risk of truck-involved crashes. ATA also believed that FMCSA’s driver health and longevity theory had no basis in reality.

“We greatly appreciate Congress’ attention into this important matter and their insistence that FMCSA properly vet and support the rules they promulgate,” said Dave Osiecki, ATA executive vice president and chief of national advocacy.

In addition to the hours-of-service language, ATA also expressed disappointment that the omnibus bill did not allow for the modest increase in tandem trailer length that had achieved bipartisan support in the House and the Senate Appropriations Committee.