DOT Study Shows Restrictive 34-Hour Reset Regulation Had No Safety Benefits

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The Department of Transportation has announced that the restrictive 2013 Hours of Service trucking regulations, which required drivers to take their 34 hour restarts during specific nighttime hours, had no significant safety benefits.

The regulation, which was signed into law in 2013 by President Obama, forced truck drivers to take their required 34 hour restarts in a time period that included two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods. It also limited drivers to taking one 34-hour reset every 168 hours.

In short, it forced all truck drivers to take breaks at very specific times, regardless of sleep schedules, delivery times, and traffic patterns.

Back in 2014, we reported on a Senate Appropriates Committee bill that suspended the restrictive 34-hour reset schedule, in order to study the safety effects of the new regulation.

This week, DOT issued a press release on the results of their study. The study compared two groups, consisting of various types of fleets (e.g., long-haul, regional and short-haul operations); one with the 2013 restrictions and one without. It concluded that there was no notable difference in driver fatigue, safety-critical events, and levels of alertness.

“The Department provided its final report on the Restart Study to us on January 5, 2017, and we concur with the Department’s conclusion that the study did not explicitly identify a net benefit from the use of the two suspended provisions of the restart rule on driver operations, safety, fatigue, and health,” the release states.

The rule also led to “unintended consequences, such as increased congestion during daytime traffic hours,” the report adds.

The lesson? Next time do the research before passing a law.

You can read the press release in full here.

Featured image: feofllo / flickr