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March 19, 2015

34-hour Restart Rule Suspension Debate Continues

The 34-hour restart rules were back in the news again earlier this month as New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker announced his plans to restore the 34-hour restart rule that was suspended on December 16, 2014.

Background on suspended the rule

To qualify for a restart a driver must meet the following requirements:
  • 168 hours from the start of the break, as long as you took 34 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Must include two consecutive periods between 1am and 5am during the 34-Hours off-duty
On December 16, 2014, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, suspended these restart rules, until September 30, 2015.

During this suspension period the FMCSA has engaged The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute to study the safety impact of the 34-Hour restart rule. The results of the study should be due prior to the expiry of the suspension period.

Drivers can now use the pre-July 2013 restart rules and take 34 consecutive hours off-duty, with no restrictions to restart their hours. This means drivers may be able to use the 16-Hour shift exemption more often than once every 7 days.

The question is: Will lawmakers wait until the safety impact study is completed to attempt to reinstate the suspended rules and will the suspension be extended?

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