An amendment to the fiscal 2012 transportation appropriations bill introduced in the Senate would block proposed changes to truck driver hours of service rules.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., introduced the amendment Wednesday, raising the odds Congress will step in to resolve the contentious decade-old issue. Ayotte joins Republican leaders in the House already on record opposing hours of service changes, including Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., also oppose the proposed changes.
“This is yet another heavy-handed federal regulation that would disrupt business operations and increase costs for the trucking industry and consumers,” said Ayotte.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration faces an Oct. 28 deadline to issue a final rule — the agency’s fifth attempt to reform hours of service since 2000. Last year, the Department of Transportation agency proposed cutting the daily driving limit from 11 to 10 hours and revising a 34-hour restart provision.
That provision allows truckers to get back on the road 34 hours after completing their previous work week. The FMCSA proposed requiring drivers to spend two consecutive midnight-to-6 a.m. periods off-duty before starting a new week.
The Teamsters union, consumer activist group Public Safety and highway safety advocates argue those changes are necessary to prevent fatal accidents. The American Trucking Associations and other trucking and shipping groups say safety already has improved under the current hours of service rules.