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Congress May Ease Truck Safety Regulations

A new spending bill before Congress includes a provision to ease many truck safety regulations passed last year. The $1 trillion bill contains language that would do away with truck safety regulations that cover rest periods for long-haul truckers. The rules passed in 2013 would require that truckers who work 70 hours a week take a 34-hour break every seven days, including two overnight rest periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The rule in the current spending bill would eliminate the requirement for overnight rest periods.

Driver Fatigue And Truck Safety Regulations

A major cause for the change in truck safety regulations last year stemmed from the number of fatal truck accidents. The line item in the spending bill offers to roll back the rest rules until October 2015 and includes a provision to examine the impact of the changes. A federal report showed that more than 3,500 people died in truck accidents in 2012, but the report does not reveal how many of those crashes were due to tired or sleepy drivers.

Advocacy Groups Oppose Truck Safety Regulations Changes

Several safety advocacy groups have spoken out against the changes in truck safety regulations. Parents Against Tired Truckers, a non-profit highway safety advocacy group, opposes the changes to truck safety regulations in the proposed spending bill. Daphne Izer, the founder of PATT, lost her son when he and three of his friends were killed in a collision that involved a sleepy truck driver. She called the changes “insane” and said that they would lead to “more death and destruction on our highways.”

Law Enforcement Questions Rest-Time Truck Safety Regulations

Law enforcement officials are often the first on the scene of major truck accidents, so they understand the impact of changes to truck safety regulations. Many have questioned the possible changes in the proposed spending bill. While they have not spoken up about the required 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. rest breaks, some have expressed concerns about drivers getting enough sleep if the requirement is repealed. Indiana State Police Sgt. Tyler Utterback told a local TV station that truckers would get better rest if the 34-hour rest period includes “a normal sleep cycle.”

Industry Supports New Truck Safety Regulations

The trucking industry has argued that the new truck safety regulations will allow them to both regain lost productivity and promote a safer work environment. Dave Osiecki, vice president of the American Trucking Association, argued that the required 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. rest breaks would place more trucks alongside morning rush hour commuters and school buses. Mr. Osiecki stated that the rest breaks would force more trucks on the road at the same time and “may be causing daytime crashes.”

Sources: WXIN-TV, National Public Radio

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