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The safety implications of the restart rollback bill

Complex political realities contributed to the passage of the latest federal appropriations bill. Because the bill needed to be passed with a sense of urgency, many lawmakers chose to take advantage of this fact and tacked a host of pet projects onto the bill. One of the pet projects added onto the appropriations bill is a rollback of the current restart provisions required of the trucking industry.

When the president signed the appropriations bill, he also effectively halted the current restart provisions mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This means that commercial truck drivers are no longer required to limit the restart of their driving hours requirements to once-per-week and are no longer required to rest for two periods in the middle of the night before restarting their workweek.

The safety implications of this rollback could potentially be significant. The restart provisions were crafted specifically to reduce the prevalence of truck driver fatigue affecting motorist safety. Now that truck drivers are no longer required to achieve this specific level of rest before resuming their workweeks, more fatigued truck drivers could feel compelled to keep working and could endanger their own safety and the safety of those around them.

The one hopeful consequence of the restart rollback is that the FMCSA is now required to study the effect of the rules and the rollback on road safety. Hopefully, when the agency reports back to Congress, lawmakers will be inspired to reinstate the rules originally put into place during the summer of 2013.

Source: Overdrive, “President signs restart rollback bill: Here’s what the law requires of FMCSA,” James Jaillet, Dec. 16, 2014

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