June 11, 2014 7:30 PM, EDT

Feinstein Emboldened by Wal-Mart Crash to Fight HOS Suspension Provision

Pete Maravich/Bloomberg

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she would “continue to fight” provisions in a fiscal 2015 transportation funding bill that would suspend for one year changes to the hours-of-service restart provision implemented last year by federal truck safety regulators.

In a statement June 11, Feinstein said the recent crash along New Jersey’s Turnpike involving a truck fueled her determination to undo recently added provisions in the Senate’s Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill.

Under the provisions offered by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the bill would lift a restriction that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 34-hour restart rule be used only once within a seven-day period. Also, it would suspend the requirement that drivers’ rest time includes consecutive 1 a.m.-to-5 a.m. segments.

The FMCSA would have one year to review the safety effects of the rule changes. The agency also would be required to report to Congress to justify its safety claims.

Senate appropriators adopted Collins’ proposal last week during the bill’s committee consideration 21-9. Feinstein voted against the provision.

“I strongly opposed the suspension of these regulations to committee and intend to continue this fight,” Feinstein said, adding, “Congress should not interfere and risk endangering more motorists and truck drivers.”

The bill is expected to be debated on the floor sometime during the week of June 16.

A spokesman for the American Trucking Associations (ATA) this week defended the chamber’s action, saying said that a bipartisan majority of senators have “put safety first” to suspend parts of the restart rule.

“We would hope that we would see a similar bipartisan majority maintain this common sense request to ask that these provisions be suspended while they are studied and that data is analyzed,” the ATA spokesman said.