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FMCSA to Draft New Hours of Service Rules for Truckers within 9 Months

Long works hours and associate fatigue lead to many avoidable tractor trailer truck wrecks. Nevertheless, the Bush administration authorized longer work hours behind the wheel for truck drivers.

Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, announced earlier today that the Obama administration has agreed to toss out controversial proposal supported by the Bush administration. Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition, and the Teamsters Union were against the Bush era proposal. These groups had sued to block the longer work hours for truckers because of the detrimental effects on highway safety.

“We are pleased that the government has decided to take seriously its responsibility to protect truck drivers and the public from unsafe driving conditions instead of bending to the interests of the trucking industry,” said attorney Greg Beck, who handled the case for Public Citizen.

The above groups asked the Court of Appeals to throw out the Hours of Service rule in March 2009 for the third time. In 2004 and 2007, courts vacated the rule, stating that longer work hours affected highway safety. However, the Bush administration reissued the rules despite the court’s decisions. These controversial rules allowed drivers to work behind the wheel for 11 consecutive hours instead of 10. Further, off-duty rest time was cut from 50 hours to 34 hours. The Hours of Service rule allowed truck drivers to spend 17 more hours a week driving.

”There is a reason that the truck driving profession is often referred to as ‘sweatshops on wheels,’” said Joan Claybrook, formerly of Public Citizen.

Jackie Gillan, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said, “Every day, truck drivers fall asleep in their cabs, and all too frequently the results are catastrophic. Unfortunately, these incidents and crashes don’t garner the same government attention and action as airline pilot fatigue.”

Daphne Izer helped to found Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) after her son and friends were killed in a wreck caused by a fatigued truck driver. Izer commented, “The good news is that there will be a new hours-of-service rule that hopefully will protect truck drivers and families like mine. The bad news is that the Obama administration nominee to lead the federal agency responsible for issuing this new rule is a trucking industry lobbyist. This nomination puts the trucking industry in the driver’s seat and will detour any meaningful and overdue reforms.”

Izer speaks of Anne Ferro, a former Maryland Motor Truck Association CEO who Obama tapped to head the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

According to PATT, more than 5,200 people were killed and another 114,000 were injured in tractor trailer truck wrecks. Truck wreck fatalities increased during the Bush administration when the controversial hours of service rule was in effect.

Reuters reports that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has agreed to redraft new Hours of Service (HOS) regulations within nine months.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor trailer truck wreck, you need an experienced Georgia truck wreck attorney who understands the federal regulations that apply to big rigs. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.