WASHINGTON — New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker plans to restore a recently suspended hours-of-service rule under review by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the senator told Transport Topics after a Senate hearing March 4.
Last year, Booker and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) strongly resisted suspending the rule, finding support from key stakeholders.
“I think we have a serious issue, as everybody concludes, about driver fatigue, and it is culpable for many accidents, and many deaths. And this seems like a reasonable evidence-based, data-based rule, and that it should not have been suspended. And I’m going to look to see as soon as possible for us to return it,” Booker said after a hearing of the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee. He is the panel’s ranking member.
Booker added that he likely will wait and see what the opportunities are to proceed with restoring the HOS regulation, suggesting that could entail waiting until FMCSA presents Congress with a study about the rule’s safety impact.
Under a funding law Congress passed in December, the enforcement that drivers take off two consecutive periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. during a 34-hour restart was suspended through Sept. 30. Truckers still are required to adhere to pre-July 2013 hours-of-service regulations. Before the suspension expires, FMCSA is required to complete a review of safety claims stemming from the restart restrictions.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute was selected to conduct the study, and FMCSA acting Administrator Scott Darling said he expects the study’s findings to be released later this year.
A majority of Republicans who supported the rule's suspension are expected to push back on Booker's efforts.