Truck Drivers new Hours of Service Rules are Struck Down

Truck drivers hours of service regulations are the laws that truck drivers have to follow regarding the number of hours they can drive per day and how long they must rest. The federal court struck down new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) regulations that would allow an 11-hour driving day followed by 10 hours of rest with a 34-hour reset. The court did not think that was safe and struck down the new law which would result in going back to 10 hours of drive time followed by an 8-hour rest.
The American Truckers Association (“ATA”) President Bill Graves stated that: “The ATA believes the existing rules have proven to be a significant improvement over the old rules in terms of reducing driver fatigue and related incidents. Motor carrier experience and FMCSA data dramatically illustrate this. The ATA plans to provide additional real-world documentation of the effectiveness of the current rules.”
FMCSA administrator Annette Sandberg: “We have a very aggressive goal at the Department of Transportation to reduce fatalities on our nation’s highways, so safety is the top issue in our rule-making process. We developed the new hours-of-service rule with the priority in mind of reducing fatigue-related truck crashes, most notably in the long-haul sector where truck driver fatigue is 18 times greater than that of the short-haul sector. It is important to note that the research supporting the new rule estimates that only 5.5% of all large truck crashes are fatigue-related.”
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety president Judith Stone stated “In today’s ruling, the court has once again sided with public safety and rejected FMCSA’s illogical proposition that driving longer hours and working longer days will somehow solve truck driver fatigue.”
Judge David Sentell who struck down the FMCSA new rule held that: “The agency [FMCSA] admits that studies show that crash risk increases, in the agency’s words, ‘geometrically’ after the eighth hour on duty.” He also chastised the agency for “ignoring its own evidence that fatigue causes many truck accidents” in a December 2006 ruling on the proposed HOS rules.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety VP Jackie Gillan: “In the last 10 years, 56,935 people have died and a million more were injured in truck crashes in communities across the country. American families are paying a steep personal and financial price for this public health disaster. … It’s time to stop coddling the trucking industry and make the safety of all motorists, including truck drivers, a priority.”
Public Citizen president Joan Claybrook: “Large trucks are rolling time bombs on our highways, with tired truckers allowed to work 14 and 16 hours a day under the new DOT rules, making truck driving the most dangerous occupation in America.”
PATT (Parents Against Tired Truckers) founder Daphne Izer: “The trucking profession has become ‘sweatshops on wheels’ because of the excessive and unsafe hours of work and driving time required of truck drivers.”
It is odd that the agency that is charged with protecting public safety is so intent on allowing truckers to drive longer and ignores the studies that show that after 8 hours the number of accidents involving trucks increases dramatically. Could it be that the FMCSA is promoting profits over safety because of contributions to politicians? The current administration is intent on helping big business whenever it can and if it is at the expense of safety of drivers on our Interstate Highways so be it. Luckily this time the courts are looking out for our safety and protecting us from the FMCSA and the interests of big business.