Dover, DE-Hours-of service rules have long been a point of contention between safety advocates, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the trucking industry. Now Congress is poised to give the trucking industry one their biggest wishes at the risk of a truck driver’s and other motorist’s safety.
Over the past several years, the FMCSA has passed regulations to reduce the incidents of fatigued driving in the trucking industry. Those rules included reducing the number of hours a truck driver can be on the road each day, and limiting the how many hours they can work in a week. But those rules and others that apply to the trucking industry are slyly overturned without going through the legislative process.
A new report from the Huffington Post found that lobbyists for the trucking industry are bypassing the normal process of rulemaking by seeking changes through the Appropriations Committee instead of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the body that finalizes rules for the transportation industries. According to the news agency, the trucking industry is using connections with the Appropriations Committee to have policy provisions they want into spending bills.Spinal, neck and head injuries are common in truck accidents.
Trucking safety advocates told the Huffington Post that legislation, which they say was written by the American Trucking Association, would permit truck drivers to drive 73 hours a week, nearly twice what most people work in a week at a time when truck accident injuries are on the rise. That is according to Jackie Gillian, president Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, but the Huffington Post couldn’t get the text of the legislation which was included in Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) spending bill for 2017. The text of the provision won’t be revealed until after Thursday, April 21 when Congress votes on the budget bill.
The Huffington Post notes that if the budget passes, the rollback of hours of service rules will occur without scientific data, public input and no advice from regulators. When asked by the new site, the ATA would not confirm if they wrote the legislation.Truck accidents involving injuries are on the rise in the U.S.
This time, will not be the first time a member of Congress bent to the will of trucking industry lobbyists. As USAttorneys noted in 2014 and the Huffington Post noted this week, Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, added a provision in the omnibus budget that overturned the restart rule which required truck drivers take a minimum of two days off in between long work weeks. Now, if the THUD budget is passed, truck drivers be allowed to spend more hours each week on the road and won’t be required to get a proper amount of rest between their extended work week. These changes are likely to lead to more fatigued driving accidents.
Fatigued driving is a major issue in the trucking industry and was being addressed until recently. Truck accident victims have a right to be disappointed that Congress is failing them
and putting their safety at risk. While it may be of little consolation, if you are the victim of a truck accident, you have the right to seek compensation from an at-fault truck driver or trucking company.