More driving hours for truckers? Senate panel to examine
controversial DOT plan
MEDIA ALERT: Bush Administration decision to allow 11-hour truck driving
limit focus of U.S. Senate hearing; Truck crash victims and safety advocates
to protest new Hours of Service rule that would cause greater truck driver
fatigue and endanger motoring public.
WHAT: In spite of a U.S. Court of Appeals twice striking down a
Bush Administration regulation giving truck drivers more time behind the wheel,
the Department of Transportation announced last week that it reinstated the
same controversial rule, defying the Courtâ€™s decision and increasing truck
driversâ€™ Hours of Service (HOS) to 11 continuous driving hours and 88 hours in
an 8-day period. A Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee
will hold a public hearing on the Administrationâ€™s decision, which consumer
safety advocates say will continue sweatshop conditions for truckers,
increase truck driver fatigue, and wreak more havoc on the nationâ€™s roadways..
DATE: Wednesday, December 19, 2007
TIME: 9:30am -- MEDIA AVAILABILITY with truck crash victims and
TIME: 10:00am -- SENATE HEARING BEGINS
WHERE: Room 253, Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
WHO: Testifying before the Senate Surface Transportation and
Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee [Sen. Frank
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Chair; Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR), Ranking Republican] of the
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will be:
* Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen and Chair of Citizens for
Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH). Public Citizen brought two successful
lawsuits against the Bush Administration on the truck driver Hours of Service
* Daphne Izer, of Lisbon, Maine, who started Parents Against Tired Truckers
(P.A.T.T.) after her teenaged son Jeff and three of his friends were killed
by a tractor trailer driver who feel asleep at the wheel on the Maine
OTHER TRUCK CRASH VICTIMS expected to attend the hearing and participate in
the media availability include:
* Jane Mathis, of St. Augustine, Florida, whose son David and his wife of
five days, Mary, were driving home from their honeymoon on I-95 near the
Kennedy Space Center when they were killed in a fiery crash caused by a tractor
trailer driver who fell asleep at the wheel.
* Ron Wood, of Washington, DC, whose mother, sister, three nephews and 5
others were killed in a crash caused by a tired trucker on U.S. Route 75 in
* Beth Bandy, of Somerville, New Jersey, whose father was killed two days
before Christmas 2004 in a crash involving a trucker who fell asleep at the
wheel on a Georgia highway.
* Larry Liberatore, of Severn, Maryland, whose son Nick, age 16, was killed
in a crash involving a tired truck driver on I-95 near the Maryland-Delaware
OTHER WITNESSES expected to testify include representatives of the Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the American Trucking Associations,
International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers
WHY: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the U.S.
Department of Transportation announced on December 11 that it is sticking by
previous proposals that dramatically increase truck driversâ€™ Hours of Service
(HOS), even though the U.S. governmentâ€™s regulations were struck down twice
by a U.S. Court of Appeals when the regulation was challenged in the court by
Public Citizen and other consumer safety groups.
The FMCSA rule allows truckers to drive 11 hours in a single shift (after 10
hours off duty) and up to 88 hours in an 8-day period. The rule
significantly increases truck driversâ€™ workdays by 40 percent more hours over an 8 day
period and allows them to drive 28 percent more hours over the same 8 day
time period. A typical American work week is 40 hours, and in most jobs, life
or death consequences are not routine.
Fatigue is a major contributor to fatal truck crashes. The National
Transportation Safety Board, the Australian Federal Office of Road Safety and other
respected highway safety research groups, have found that nearly 40 percent of
big truck crashes are due to fatigue. Moreover, after 17-19 hours without
sleep, a driverâ€™s reaction time is up to 50 percent slower, which is the same
as having a .05 percent blood alcohol level.
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