Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Good news for highway safety: Spending bill stalled in Senate

Cory Booker
Good news for tired truckers: a spending bill in Congress has stalled and may not be put to a vote. The bill includes an amendment by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine that would allow truckers to drive 82 hours a week.

The Teamsters fought hard against the Collins amendment. So did Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.

He filed an amendment to leave the house-of-service rules as they are. Today he published an op-ed in the Times of Trentonr explaining why:
Over the past few weeks, New Jerseyans felt the devastation of at least four major accidents involving tractor-trailer collisions, and national statistics sadly show that these incidents are unfolding more and more frequently. From 2009 to 2012, truck crash injuries increased by 40 percent and truck crash fatalities increased by 16 percent. 
We know why many of these tragedies are happening: Truck driver fatigue is a leading cause of major truck accidents. These drivers, who work extremely long days to deliver the goods we depend on and to keep the American economy moving, deserve basic protections that allow them to get sufficient rest to do their job safely and efficiently. 
Just this past Thursday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report on the truck crash that happened on the New Jersey Turnpike June 7. The collision killed one passenger traveling in a limousine, required four other limo passengers to be airlifted to a hospital and involved six other cars. 
The driver of the truck, according to the NTSB report, had logged 13 hours and 32 minutes of work at the time of the crash. Had he reached his destination, he most certainly would have exceeded the number of hours truck drivers are federally permitted to work in a given day. Current regulations prevent truck drivers from exceeding 14 hours of work and 11 hours of driving each day. 
At a time when we need to be doing more to improve highway safety, it is unconscionable that we would roll back evidence-based, lifesaving rules.
Read the whole thing here