Babin bill would extend HOS day by three hours, other rules status quo

 Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

A bill to modify the Hours of Service rule by tacking on three hours to the day has been introduced in the House of Representatives by a member of that body’s key transportation committee.

Brian Babin (Republican-Texas) introduced the legislation late Thursday, March 29. Details on the legislation were sketchy; as of Friday morning, the text of the bill was not on the main Congressional website.

But in an announcement about the legislation, Babin said the bill, H.R. 5417, was dubbed The Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers Act (REST).

“The REST Act would allow drivers to take one rest break per shift, for up to three consecutive hours,” Babin’s office said. “The single off-duty period would not be counted toward the driver’s 14-hour, on-duty allowance and would not extent the total, allowable drive limits.”

Babin is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which will take up the legislation.

Based on the statement from Babin’s office, the REST act would only make one significant change in the Hours of Service rule: to extend the day by three hours from its current top limit of 14 hours. It would also eliminate the 30-minute rest mandate.

“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,” Babin’s statement said. “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.”

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Babin has been active on driver issues before. Late last year, he sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting that the White House issue an executive order delaying the ELD mandate. Soft enforcement of that mandate began in late December and goes into full effect on Sunday.

Babin's release on the bill had a statement from the acting president and CEO of the Owner Operator Indendent Driver Association (OOIDA.) “We thank Rep. Babin for recognizing the need to address the lack of options for truckers trying to safely operate under today’s overly rigid federal regulations,” Todd Spencer said. “We want to see improvements to highway safety and what we have right now isn’t going to get that done.” OOIDA has been vocal in its pushback against the ELD mandate and its impact on HOS rules.

The statement on the bill on Babin’s website allows a comments section. One commenter, Les Willis, described as self-employed, said the bill was aimed at the wrong target.  The bill, he said, “effectively extends the duty cycle by 3 hours to a now whopping 17 hrs. Totally ineffective and will change nothing.” The rest of his comment, and that of another, focuses primarily on advocating for broader pay changes that would move toward more of a per-hour than per-mile compensation package, which is not targeted in Babin’s legislation.

(Freightwaves commented on the legislation separately late Thursday.)