A new battle in the long legal war over truckers’ hours of service (HOS) is taking place in a federal appellate court in Washington, D.C. today. Nonprofit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen is attempting to force the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to require what it calls “meaningful limits” on the hours truckers may drive – limits that Congress called for nearly 20 years ago, in an effort to improve transportation safety.
“After lengthy delay, the DOT did the opposite: It increased driving hours even though there is no safety benefit to allowing more tired truckers on the roads,” according to a statement by the group. “Twice before, the courts agreed with Public Citizen that the DOT’s rules did not comply with Congress’ safety mandate and struck down the rule.
|"A 70-hour workweek still exceeds most Americans’ schedules by 30 hours per week, or 1,560 per year, and most Americans do not control an 80,000-pound vehicle."|
“Nonetheless, in December 2011, the DOT again issued a rule that increases driving hours. Public Citizen again challenged it in court.”
Truck drivers are currently allowed to work 70 hours a week (down from a previous limit of 82 hours a week), but they can work up to 11 hours a day.
"A 70-hour workweek still exceeds most Americans’ schedules by 30 hours per week, or 1,560 per year, and most Americans do not control an 80,000-pound vehicle and have the fate of others near them in their control,” he said.
|Truck crash fatalities increased in 2011, while overall traffic fatalities decreased.|
After her son Jeff and three of his friends were killed in a truck accident, Daphne Izer founded Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.).
“Truck driving is consistently listed in the top ten most dangerous jobs,” said Izer. “Drivers are pushed to their limits regularly working 14 hour days, including overnight shifts, day-in and day-out. It’s just not humanly possible to keep up that pace and it negatively impacts safety, both for the truck driver and for the rest of us who drive alongside these huge rigs.”
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), truck crash fatalities increased in 2011, while overall traffic fatalities decreased, for the second consecutive year.
The American Trucking Association has criticized the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for rejecting a request to delay implementation of its HOS rule.
“In essence, FMCSA was not persuaded that the risk of wasting upwards of $320 million in training costs (by their calculations) was a reasonable basis for delaying the rule until its outcome was certain.”