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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