We've known that the 14 hour rule was problematic since it was first introduced, but it isn't until the last few months that we've really felt the full impact of the legislation. Since the ELD Mandate went into effect in December of 2017 we have heard that drivers are more tired than they've ever been. This exhaustion comes because the inflexibility of the 14 hour rule. But change is in the air.
US Representative Brian Babin just introduced a bill to the House that has the potential to be a game changer for weary drivers. H.R. 5417, also known as The Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers Act, or The REST Act.
Babin said this regarding the Act, “I’m proud to introduce the REST Act today and give America’s truckers the options they need to safely operate under today’s rigid federal regulations. This bill is an important step in making the way for improved highway safety. It would also eliminate the existing 30-minute rest break requirement.“
What Does the REST Act Do?
Babin's office released a statement about how the REST Act would alter and improve the current Hours of Service rules:
The REST Act would allow drivers to take one rest break per shift, for up to three consecutive hours. The single off-duty period would not be counted toward the driver’s 14-hour, on-duty allowance and would not extend the total, allowable drive limits … The REST Act requires the Department of Transportation to update Hours of Service regulations to allow a rest break once per 14-hour duty period for up to 3 consecutive hours as long as the driver is off-duty, effectively pausing the 14-hour clock. However, drivers would still need to log ten consecutive hours off duty before the start of their next work shift. It would also eliminate the existing 30-minute rest break requirement.
Isn't This Just Going to Make Me Work a 17 Hour Day?
Well, if you are counting your time from when you start driving to when you stop for the day, yes, it would potentially be 17 hours from start to end. However, what we see in this bill is that it gives drivers freedom again, not to work 17 hours, but to have the flexibility to take a break during the day to grab lunch, walk your dog, or take a nap. The goal of this isn't to have drivers in work mode 17 hours a day, but to allow drivers the ability to pause their 14 hour window (for three hours or less) and drive their 11 allowable hour with a bit more freedom.
Does the Act Really Change Anything?
Yes! While the current 14 hour rule would remain in place, there would be an exemption for drivers to pause their 14 hours and take one rest of up to three consecutive hours and then restart their 14 hour clock after their down time. This new legislation allows a driver to rest when he or she needs to rest and not be penalized with reduced drive time. It puts some power back in the hands of drivers. Drivers will still need to log ten consecutive hours off duty before they can start their next work shift.
Why Should I Support This if I Want to Abolish the 14-Hour Rule?
We understand! Ultimately, this is a bandaid solution to a much bigger problem. We agree that drivers deserve to have complete control over their own schedule, while maintaining safety through keeping certain portions of the law such as the 11 hour maximum per day. While the REST Act is not a perfect fix, it does help take some pressure off drivers, so we believe it deserves our support, even as we work toward a more permanent solution.
Okay, Now How Can I Show My Support?
If you support The REST Act and want to see changes to Hours of Service, you need to make your voice count! The best way to do that is to contact your elected officials and let them know you fully support this bill. Calling or emailing isn't easy for everyone, but it is important so that our government leaders see that truckers are a force to be reckoned with!
Make Those Calls and Emails!
Find the contact information for your lawmakers by clicking the link below and typing in your ZIP code.
You can also call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202)-224-3121 and an operator will connect you to your representatives.
What Should I Say or Write?
You don't need to say much! Your representatives usually have tally systems with yay or nay opinions from constituents. You can just say that you support H.R. 5417! If you want, use the script below.
My name is ____________ and my address is _______________. I want to let Representative ___________ know that I fully support H.R. 5417 or the REST Act and urge him/her to do the same for the sake of all truck drivers.
When you make your calls, please let us know! We love to hear about the impact you are having in the industry. And if you want to stay up to date on the latest news in trucking, subscribe to our blog!