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Senate May Suspend Trucking Safety Rule

A transportation funding bill currently making its way through the Senate features an amendment that could suspend a trucking safety rule implemented last year.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced the amendment that would suspend the so-called “restart rule,” implemented in July 2013, for at least a year. The restart rule, which is unpopular with trucking operators, requires drivers to remain off the job for 34 consecutive hours, including two nights, at the end of their work week. The bill would leave in place other hour requirement rules, including daily limits of 14 hours on duty and of 11 hours behind the wheel.

Collins’ amendment would also instruct the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to conduct further study on the rule during its suspension. She and others claim that it has had the unintended consequence of increasing the number of trucks on the road during peak traffic — trucks which otherwise would have traveled during night hours.

In its entirety, the bill is a $54 billion budget measure to fund the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other departments. The House version of the funding bill does not currently have a provision paralleling Collins’ amendment.

Mary Landrieu, R-La., is among the senators voting in favor of the amendment, and she said more research was needed on the rule. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., argued that last year’s rule changes have been effective.