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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 Court’s decision and increasing truck 
drivers’  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  Administration’s decision, which consumer 
safety advocates say will continue  sweatshop conditions for truckers, 
increase truck driver fatigue, and wreak more  havoc on the nation’s roadways.. 
DATE:            Wednesday, December 19, 2007 
TIME:              9:30am -- MEDIA AVAILABILITY with truck crash victims and 
safety  advocates 
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 drivers’  Hours of Service 
(HOS), even though the U.S. government’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 drivers’ 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 driver’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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