June 4, 2014 11:45 AM, EDT
ATA Calls on Senators to Approve FMCSA Restart Study

Members of the trucking industry urged key senators on June 3 to approve a one-year suspension of restart restrictions aimed at truck drivers when a Senate committee considers a fiscal 2015 transportation funding bill later this week.

In a letter to the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee, American Trucking Associations called on lawmakers to suspend the restart rule while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration studies it in order to justify its safety claims.

ATA reached out to Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, and ranking Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama, as well as Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (D-Maine), the top transportation appropriators on the committee. The letter was signed by a consortium of associations, carriers and companies that included FedEx Corp., the American Chemistry Council and UPS Inc.

ATA wrote that current restart regulations “have placed economic hardships on thousands upon thousands of employers,” and the existing “unjustified rules are causing harm not just to trucking companies and drivers, but many, many others in the supply chain."

ATA added: “The new restart restrictions lack the research basis, data and analysis necessary to justify them."

Aside from the study, ATA also is asking senators to lift FMCSA’s enforcement for drivers to take off two consecutive periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. during a 34-hour restart.

Senate appropriators are scheduled to debate the fiscal 2015 funding legislation at a June 5 hearing. There is an expectation several Republican members will offer a plan to study the 34-hour restart provision that relies on data collected through electronic logs.

The House’s legislative version, scheduled for floor consideration June 9, would direct FMCSA to offer scientific evidence supporting the benefits of the agency’s once-per-week restart restriction. The bill would require the agency's report to be submitted within 90 days of the bill’s enactment. The agency’s rule took effect July 1.

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro has defended her agency’s restart rule, claiming before Congress that it has helped prevent fatal crashes and injuries.