Congress is currently considering an amendment that would repeal the changes to truck drivers' hours of service rules that took effect last year. The rule requiring truckers to include two consecutive periods of rest from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. in order to "restart" their work week has been under fire from some in the industry since it was first proposed. The goal of the rule is to limit the number of truck drivers who are driving while fatigued. Opponents say that it does not accomplish this goal, but it does force truckers onto the road during higher traffic periods. Early data concerning the new rules is limited, but could support the conclusion that the rules have improved safety.
If the amendment, which was attached to a Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill is passed, truckers would still require a rest period but would not be required to take two nights off. Before the new rules, drivers would often choose to start a new shift during the 1-5 a.m. period in order to miss early morning rush hours in heavily populated areas.
Studies have shown that driving in the early morning increases the likelihood of an accident. That is true for both professional drivers and ordinary commuters. While a legally defined rest period does not guarantee that the driver is actually resting, it does force trucking companies to give drivers two consecutive nights in which they can rest. Whether the benefits of that outweigh the drawbacks of decreased flexibility is a matter for further study.
Source: Land Line, "OOIDA's call supporting Collins amendment draws 3,000 comments," by David Tanner, 17 June 2014