Chris Spear, CEO of The American Trucking Associations (ATA), said that the trucking industry was pleased by the release of a U.S. Department of Transportation report that found no benefit to the "onerous and unjustified" restrictions placed on the use of the 34-hour restart by professional drivers.
In a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Cho, the Inspector General Observations office provided its final report on the Restart Study and concurred with the Department’s conclusion that the study did not explicitly identify a net benefit from the use of the two suspended provisions of the restart rule on driver operations, safety, fatigue, and health.
The department concluded that the study met the following requirements of the act:
• Compared work schedules and assessed operator fatigue for two groups of drivers—those operating under the original restart provisions and those operating under the July 2013 restart provisions—each large enough to produce statistically significant results.
• Compared work schedules and assessed safety-critical events and operator fatigue between drivers from a statistically significant sample of drivers comprised of fleets of all sizes (e.g., long-haul, regional and short-haul operations) in various industry sectors, including flat bed, refrigerated, tank, and dry van to the extent practicable.
• Assessed driver safety-critical events, fatigue, levels of alertness, and driver health outcomes by using both electronic and hard copy records of duty status.
• Used data from electronic logging devices to the extent practicable.
• Developed a plan and final report, subject to independent peer review by a panel of individuals with relevant medical and scientific expertise.
“The release of this report closes what has been a long, and unnecessary, chapter in our industry’s drive to improve highway safety,” Spear says. “We knew from the beginning that these Obama administration restrictions provided no benefit to safety, and in light of the DOT’s findings – corroborated by the DOT Inspector General – it is good for our industry and for the motoring public that they will be done away with permanently.”
ATA has fought against these restrictions – which limited drivers’ flexibility in the use of the restart – since they were first proposed in 2013.