President Signs New HOS Language into Law

Yesterday, December 16, President Obama signed into law the FY2015 “Cromnibus” bill, which provides funding to operate almost every federal agency until September 30, 2015. Within the portion of the bill providing funding for the US Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Congress included a controversial transportation policy rider related to the new Hoursof-Service rule for truck drivers.

The provisions in the “Cromnibus,” will suspend funding for enforcement of two parts of the new Hours-of-Service rule:
(1) the requirement that drivers be off duty from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. on two consecutive days before restarting their weekly work clock, and
(2) the mandate that 168 hours or seven full days pass before a driver can start a new week.

As a result of the suspension, the new provision will force the US DOT to enforce the earlier Hours-of-Service rule with a 34-hour restart, which was in effect from 2003 until June 2013. Under that rule, drivers will be permitted to restart their weekly hours by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty, regardless of whether or not it includes two periods of time between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. A driver can also utilize the restart more than one time per week if necessary.

Because the language resides in an annual spending bill, it will expire at the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2015 unless it is extended further. The language also directs the Department of

Transportation to conduct a study comparing the effectiveness of the 34-hour restart rules in place before July 1, 2013 with those that took effect after.

Industry stakeholders expect enforcement memos from the FMCSA to be distributed to law enforcement personnel soon, that will describe the changes and their impact.