Congress Continues to Wrangle Over Trucker Work Rules

Trucking companies, shippers and other stakeholders are in ‘hurry up and wait’ mode for further clarity on truck driver work rules. Congress is spending more hours this summer reconciling numerous truck provisions in House and Senate spending bills.

One of the key matters at stake is the restart provision introduced in 2004 that allows big rig drivers to reset their weekly hours of service clocks and start driving again after 34 hours of rest.

The restart is largely credited with boosting driver productivity, but has been criticized for shortening rest breaks and putting drivers back behind the wheel too fast.


Use of the restart provision has expanded in the last 10 years, especially for truckers making early Monday drives. That was until new hours of service rules came into effect three years ago. This made it harder for truckers to do a restart within 34 hours. Trucker productivity is alleged to have dropped by 3-5 percent.

In a spending bill passed at the end of 2014, Congress ended requirements that every restart must include two back to back 1-5 am periods and that a restart could only be used once in a week. Congress also mandated that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study if the changes in 2013 boosted health and safety.

There will continue to be more hours of debate in Congress on the future of the 34 hour restart rule; a new Congress and president next year could be a major deciding factor, as well.

Our View

Our Virginia truck crash attorneys are glad that the FMCSA has closely regulated the number of hours a truck driver can work each day. Since 2003, drivers have only been able to drive 11 hours per day after 10 hours of rest and a maximum of 60 hours on duty in a week. Drivers who violate the rules are harshly penalized, and their companies can be hit with an $11,000 per violation penalty. Some trucking companies have even been caught telling their drivers to violate hours of service regulations, and had to pay $50,000 in fines.

Tired and careless truck drivers lead to deadly, terrible crashes that kill and injure thousands of Americans each year. While a good personal injury attorney can secure large financial settlements in many of these terrible crashes, money will not bring back the dead and will not usually return the seriously injured to their old selves.