Friday, December 5, 2014

Senate considering lowering truck safety standards for special interests

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine wants the government to allow bigger, heavier trucks and to eliminate the mandatory two days rest for drivers. The Teamsters and allies are doing all they can to prevent that from happening.

Two days after Tracy Morgan was injured by a tired truck driver, Collins slipped an amendment on to a so-called Omnibus bill that got rid of the two-day rest requirement. The Senate may soon pass that bill, and Collins' amendment may still be in it.

Politico Pro today reported,
One of the other issues not nailed down is language in the Senate bill suspending two key parts of a controversial trucker hours-of-service rule. [U.S. Rep. Ed] Pastor said the language, from Sen. Susan Collins, “is kicked up to a higher level.”
The measure would allow companies to push drivers to work 82 hours a week instead of the current 70.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa attacked the proposal in a statement,
The Omnibus should not be a testing ground for policies that denigrate highway safety and further deteriorate our crumbling infrastructure.
Hoffa, along with highway safety advocates, also blasted Collins' proposal in a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. In the letter, they called out the trucking and shipping industry for its unprecedented assault on public health and safety.

The letter also said,
Industry’s long wish list includes exempting several states from federal truck size and weight limits; forcing 39 states, including your own home state of North Carolina, to accept longer trucks which will degrade safety and require expensive infrastructure modifications; and, overturning the Administration’s truck driver hours of service rule by eliminating the two-day weekend off-duty for truck drivers to rest thereby dramatically increasing the working and driving hours of truck drivers.
Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), lost her teenage son in a crash caused by a tired Walmart driver. She said the number of people killed annually in truck crashes is equal to a major airplane crash every week of the year. Said Izer,
Congress should not be listening to well-heeled and well-connected trucking executives who want to push truck drivers to work 82 hours in a week.