A bill has been introduced that would allow truck drivers to take one rest break per shift, for up to three consecutive hours on off-duty time.
In a March 29 statement, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said his Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers Act (HR 5417), or REST, is aimed at “modernizing” hours of service for truck drivers.
The single off-duty period would not be counted toward the driver’s 14-hour, on-duty allowance and would not extend the total, allowable drive limits, Babin said in a statement.
“I’m proud to introduce the REST Act today and give America’s truckers the options they need to safely operate under today’s rigid federal regulations,” Babin said. “This bill is an important step in making the way for improved highway safety.”
However, Babin said that under the legislation, drivers would still need to log 10 consecutive hours off duty before the start of their next work shift.
“It would also eliminate the existing 30-minute rest break requirement,” said Babin, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“While ATA believes that there are opportunities to improve hours-of-service regulations to provide additional flexibility while maintaining safety, we don’t believe that there is sufficient data at this time to support the types of changes proposed by the REST Act,” American Trucking Associations spokesman Sean McNally said.
“However, with the deadline to comply with the electronic logging device requirement now passed, it is our hope that we will soon have enough hard data from ELDs to support possible improvements and reforms to the hours-of-service rules,” he added. “We also hope that in the interim, all links in the supply chain — drivers, shippers and carriers — work together to maintain a safe and efficient environment for moving the nation’s freight.”
Babin’s bill comes less than a week after several mostly individual owner-operators and small-company truck drivers attending FMCSA listening sessions at the Mid-America Trucking Show harshly criticized the agency for its electronic logging device rule, limiting their workdays to 14 hours, losing time on the highway being delayed at loading docks, not solving the scarcity of parking, and for telling them when to take their rest and meal breaks.
“We thank Rep. Babin for recognizing the need to address the lack of options for truckers trying to safely operate under today’s overly rigid federal regulations,” said Todd Spencer, acting president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “We want to see improvements to highway safety and what we have right now isn’t going to get that done.”