"The American public will pay with their lives and their wallets if Congress gives in to the anti-safety agenda of trucking interests."

That's the inflammatory, BS quote from Jackie Gillan, president, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, in a press release sent out yesterday by Advocates, with similar quotes from other "public safety" groups such as Citizens for Reliable and Safety Highways (CRASH -- you'd think they were part of the government with that convoluted name written to fit the acronym), Parents Against Tired Truckers and the Teamsters union.

To what purpose? The groups are once again using the cheap ploy of the Tracy Morgan crash to try to stall the American Trucking Associations' efforts to get the new 34-hour restart provisions of the hours of service rules put on hold until more research can be done.

The safety groups are trying to equate this to some massive increase in driver hours, which simply is not the case. It's not like we've seen some huge drop in highway accidents in the 18 months since the new rules went into effect.

The release says:

Corporate trucking and shipping interests are pushing a long and deadly "wish list" including allowing significant truck weight increases for several states; forcing 39 states to allow longer trailer lengths of 33 feet on streets and highways to benefit FedEx and other trucking companies; and, rolling back the current hours of service limits for truck drivers by eliminating the two-day weekend off-duty for truck drivers to rest. The industry-backed proposal will increase the current working and driving hours of truck drivers from 70 to 82 hours a week and greatly contribute to fatigued truck drivers.

With only 8 days before funding expires to keep the federal government open, truck crash victims and survivors and organizations also sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Foxx urging him to recommend a presidential veto of any funding bill that includes anti-truck safety, special interest exemptions to federal safety laws and rules.  Enactment of any of these anti-safety measures will have a profound and lasting impact on highway safety, deaths and injuries for years to come.

While the release talks about a long wish list, the main target is the 34-hour restart debate. The contested provision requires drivers to take off two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during their restart on two consecutive days. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says this will improve safety because nighttime sleep is more restorative than daytime sleep.

ATA opposes this restriction, arguing that it can reduce carrier productivity and may increase risk by putting more trucks on the road during Monday morning rush hour. At a time when the industry is facing a critical driver shortage and tight capacity, it's wreaking havoc on many driver schedules, especially in time-sensitive industries such as the just-in-time delivery of parts to assembly lines.

ATA has previously debunked the safety advocates' claim that rolling back the provision would dramatically increase driver hours: “FMCSA has previously said that the alleged working hours envisioned by these industry critics are only possible in an ‘imaginary world.’”

The rhetoric in the release is over the top, from the phrase "Stop Assault on Truck Safety" in the headline to calling these measures "greedy special interest exemptions." And some of it is just plain wrong.

PATT found Daphne Izer says, "I am shocked that this proposal to eliminate the two-day weekend off-duty for truck drivers to rest is being seriously considered by Congress in the aftermath of the horrific crash that seriously injured Tracy Morgan and killed James McNair."

Excuse me, Daphne, but it's not a plan to eliminate the restart. The restart was already in the hours of service rules -- but it offered a lot more flexibility as to when those 34 hours could stop and start.

And although the press release paints ATA as greedy, big-business, well-heeled villains, in reality the new version of the restart is not just hurting trucking companies' productivity -- it's hitting a lot of truck drivers hard in the wallet as well, as that 34 hours swells to many more in order to accommodate those two consecutive nighttime periods of rest.

Related:

Advocates Poll Rekindles Restart Fight

Author

Deborah Lockridge
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.

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All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.

View Bio
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