Congress may suspend trucking rest regulations as part of budget deal

Right now, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are busy debating a funding bill that
must be passed by midnight in order to avoid a possible government shutdown.
While the primary sticking points appear to cover such widely varying
issues as immigration and banking reform, there are also other provisions
included in the draft funding bill that could prove to be contentious.

For instance, consider a provision introduced by appropriations committees
in the House and Senate just last night that would temporarily suspend
the hours-of-service regulations currently governing commercial truckers
here in the U.S. pending the completion of a traffic study.

For those unfamiliar with the current hours-of-service regulations, they
were introduced back in July 2013 and permit truck drivers to work upwards
of 14 hours per day with 11 hours spent driving. They also dictate, however,
that if truck drivers average 70 hours in a week, they must take a mandatory
34-hour rest period that includes two consecutive nights from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, which projected that the revised
hours-of-service regulations would save 19 lives per year, stop 560 personal
injuries and prevent 1,400 truck accidents, has already voiced strong
objections to any attempts to suspend them and reintroduce 80-plus hour
workweeks for truck drivers.

“The evidence clearly shows that truck drivers are better rested and
more alert after two nights of sleep than one night, and that unending
80-hour work weeks lead to driver fatigue and compromise highway safety,”
wrote Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a letter to senior members
of the Senate and House.

Multiple vehicle safety advocacy groups have joined with the U.S. DOT to
express their outrage over the possibility of the provision, authored
by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), passing as part of a larger legislative
funding package. This included D.C.-based Advocates for Highway and Auto
Safety, which accused elected officials of “bend[ing] to the demands
of corporate trucking interests.”

It will certainly be interesting to see what transpires over the next several
hours and in the days after …

If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a
truck accident, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more
about your rights and your options.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Congress budget deal suspends trucker rest rule,” Jeff Plungis, Dec. 10, 2014

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