The new "hours of service" rules allow truckers to drive for 11 hours instead of the current ten, and require drivers to take a ten-hour break period - up from eight. Trucking companies are backing the change, while the Teamsters union, which represents truckers, and safety advocates oppose it.
"Decades of research, both on commercial drivers and shift workers, has shown that increasing the length of time a worker must spend performing certain tasks correspondingly reduces alertness and performance," according to Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT).
The group also reports that one out of eight traffic fatalities in 2001resulted from a collision involving a large truck - killing 5,082 people.
The measures, announced by the Department of Transportation (DOT) in late April, do not require the use of on-board electronic devices to verify how much time drivers actually spend on the road, rendering the standards unenforceable, according to OMB Watch.
The recent action stems from a lawsuit in which Public Citizen, PATT and dissident Teamster members sued DOT to update the standards, which have been unchanged since 1939.
The Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) also instructed DOT to review "hours of service" based on recommendations it received from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. These recommendations were submitted to OIRA, along with hundreds of others, in response to its annual report on regulation, released this past January.