A bill passed late into the night Dec. 9 that will fund the federal government into April 2017 also provides some relief for the trucking industry, including operational propane vehicles.
The Continuing Resolution, which President Obama signed on the morning of Dec. 10, includes a provision for truck drivers that preserves the 34-hour restart rule.
The language in the Continuing Resolution should, pending the results of a Department of Transportation study, restore the restart rules to what they were before July 2013 when two restrictions were imposed, says the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
According to ATA, the Obama administration restricted the use of the restart in July 2013 to only once every 168 hours and required that the restart period include two overnight stretches between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The impact of these changes – until they were suspended in 2014 – was an uptick in early daytime driving by truckers and an increase in crashes due to the resulting congestion, the association adds.
“These rules, put forward based on a very limited laboratory sleep study, could have had serious negative safety impacts,” says Chris Spear, ATA president and CEO. “The restart is an important tool for drivers, not to maximize driving time, but to have the flexibility to maximize off-duty time and time at home, and we are pleased that drivers will continue to have unrestricted access to it.”
The National Propane Gas Association says the “much-needed clarification” of the restart rule has been one of its top priorities this year. The issue was a major “ask” at Propane Days this summer.