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A Short History of the 34 hour Restart

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There have been a lot of changes to the 34-hour restart rule recently, including it’s recent suspension. It can be confusing to follow it all, so let us get rid of any confusion by explaining what the rule is, where it came from, its purpose and what you need to do to stay compliant.

What is the 34-hour Restart?

The 34-hour restart is part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s Hours of Service (HOS) rules. These rules regulate truck drivers’ working hours and limit how long you can work daily and weekly. The rule also regulates when you can take rest breaks.

The 34-hour restart rule originally said you must take a 34 hour break from driving if you work 70 hours in one week. That includes two, back-to-back periods of nighttime rest between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. So if you took a break at 7 p.m. on Friday and ended it at 5 a.m. on Sunday, you would be compliant.

Why Hours of Service?

Hours of Service regulations were issued by the FMCSA to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue. The agency thought that limiting the time commercial drivers could be on the road would decrease accidents. According to their research, the FMCSA said drivers were more tired between midnight and 5 a.m. and they became more tired the longer they were on the road. So HOS was created to keep drivers off the road at those times and set limits to their driving time.

A History of Hours of Service and the 34-hour Restart

In 1938, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) enforced the first HOS rules. These rules limited driving times for truckers and went through several changes, before the ICC was abolished and the FMCSA started issuing the regulations.  The 34-hour restart was first introduced in 2003 during a round of changes to Hours of Service.

On July 1, 2013, the FMCSA put in place the Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule, which included changes to HOS and the 34-hour restart. This final rule required drivers to limit their restart to once a week and include a period of at least two nights off duty from 1 to 5 a.m.

2014 Suspension

In December 2014, Congress suspended the 34-hour restart provision until September 30, 2015. They told the FMCSA to study the 34-hour restart to see if the provision actually decreased driver fatigue.The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) is currently studying the 34-hour restart and the provisions are suspended until the study is completed and results are made public.

We have more information on the suspension of the rule here.

How to Stay Compliant with Hours of Service

It’s important to remember that all other HOS rules are still in effect and only the 34-hour restart is suspended. You can now restart more than once per week and won’t have to include two 1 to 5 a.m. periods within your 34-hour restart, but make sure to follow all other HOS rules. For a list of all the HOS rules, go to the FMCSA website.

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