Transportation Department Funding Bill Would Eliminate Measure to Reduce Trucker Fatigue
Congress is currently considering a transportation spending bill which would repeal a rule designed to keep dangerously-fatigued commercial truck drivers off the road, despite calls from governmental safety organizations and private activists alike to retain the measure.
The rule under attack is known as the 34-hour restart rule. The portion of the rule that would be repealed by the current bill was designed to limit long-haul drivers to hours that will ensure they receive a sufficient amount of nighttime rest. The portion of the rule currently under threat was suspended in 2014 after Congress requested additional studies on its effects. The current rule states that drivers who work for a company that does not operate seven days a week are limited to working 60 hours in any seven-day period. Drivers for companies that do operate all seven days a week are not allowed to drive after reaching 70 hours behind the wheel in an eight-day period. Once drivers hit the cap, they must spend a total of 34 hours resting, after which the 60- or 70-hour week would restart. The portion of the rule that was suspended, and which may be eliminated permanently, required that drivers could only take one 34-hour restart period each week, and that the 34 hours would need to include two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Earlier this year, the National Transportation Safety Board announced that reducing driver fatigue was among its ten most-wanted safety improvements for 2016. “Most commercial transportation is 24/7, but humans are not,” stated the chairman of the board, Christopher Hart. Referring to the crash which nearly killed Tracy Morgan in 2014, he continued, “Amazingly, the driver was in compliance with the applicable rest and duty time rules, yet he had been awake for 28 straight hours before the crash.”
Advocates for Highway Safety, a nonprofit safety advocate group, states that there was a 17% increase of fatal injuries and a 28% increase in nonfatal injuries in accidents involving large trucks in the years between 2009 and 2013, the year that the threatened rule was enacted. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has come out strongly against the potential elimination of the overnight rule. “Pushing truckers to the point of exhaustion puts them and others on the road at risk. It is our job as lawmakers to ensure appropriate guidelines are in place to protect these drivers and the individuals and families traveling on our nation’s highways,” he stated.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident with a large truck, semi or tractor-trailer in New Jersey, seek the money damages you need to recover from your injuries and cover expensive medical bills by contacting experienced and trial-ready personal injury lawyer Andrew R. Jacobs for a consultation on your claims, at 973-532-9681.