WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pressure is mounting on the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to delay the implementation of its new hours-of-service (HoS) final rule, which activists say is a significant risk to public safety.
This week, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Parents Against Tired Truckers petitioned the agency to reconsider.
They also have the support of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who had already denounced the rule.
The rule takes effect Sept. 29. There was no immediate reaction from the agency.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) unveiled the rule in mid-May, saying it will offer more flexibility for America’s truckers.
It would extend the maximum working day for short-haul drivers from 12 hours to 14 hours, and would also make changes to the mandatory 30-minute break rule.
That would allow long-haul drivers to count time spent on work other than driving, such as loading or unloading, toward the 30-minute break after eight hours of driving.
Those changes were among four key revisions announced by the agency in May.
“The agency repeatedly justifies these drastic changes to the HoS rule, which will result in longer work days for drivers, by claiming that the revisions will provide greater operational flexibility to the industry while not increasing fatigue because the daily driving limits remains unchanged,” said Peter Kurdock, general counsel for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
“This claim is contradicted by research on fatigue and the agency’s own previous conclusions on this issue,” Kurdock told Today’s Trucking.
“The agency has failed to address the significant risk to public safety posed by fatigued drivers of CMVs at a time when large truck crashes continue to increase.”– Peter Kurdock, general counsel, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
He said the final rule is not in the public interest and does not meet the agency’s statutory mission in carrying out its duties to assign and maintain safety as the highest priority.
“The agency has failed to address the significant risk to public safety posed by fatigued drivers of CMVs at a time when large truck crashes continue to increase.”
Kurdock said experts have identified driver fatigue as a serious safety problem, and the changes made to the HoS rules are just going to increase driver fatigue.
He said his group is concerned with all four of the provisions in the final rule.
The petitioners will decide on the next step of their campaign after hearing from the agency, Kurdock said.
The U.S. trucking industry employs more than 7 million people and moves 70% of the country’s domestic freight.
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