The National Fraternal Order of Police this week endorsed suspending a federal truck-safety regulator’s new hours-of-service rules, a proposal Senators are expected to take up before the August recess.
In a letter to Senate Appropriations leaders June 26, Fraternal Order of Police President Chuck Canterbury said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration should study the safety impacts of its hours-of-service (HOS) rules because they currently expose more motorists to heavy trucks during peak driving times. The rules went into effect last July.
Canterbury added that the agency didn’t “adequately research the public and highway safety implications of the new HOS regulations.” Additionally, he dismissed efforts by proponents of the rules to promote its safety claims during the recent truck crash in New Jersey that killed one and injured television personality Tracy Morgan.
“Nothing in current or pending regulations contributed to this tragic event, as the alleged actions of the driver were unlawful under both regulatory schemes,” Canterbury wrote.
Senate Democratic leaders have yet to indicate when they will call up a $126 billion spending measure that included the proposal offered by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to deny funding for last year’s changes to FMCSA’s restart rules.
Collins’ proposal to the bill also would require FMCSA to review the safety effects of the changes and justify any safety claims to Congress. Her proposal was supported by American Trucking Associations but prompted opposition from a small group of Democrats.
Before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pulled the bill from the floor June 19, the Senate heard from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who offered to undo the hours-of-service provision in the bill.
“Truck drivers are working extremely long days to deliver the goods we depend on, but it should never be at the cost of their safety and that of other drivers,” Booker said in a statement.
Despite Collins’ efforts, the agency continues to defend the new rules. FMCSA spokeswoman Marissa Padilla told Transport Topics that the current fatigue prevention rules for truck drivers are the product of extensive, real-world research and to claim otherwise is to ignore the facts.
“The final rule cited over 80 scientific sources in addition to hundreds of studies the agency considered examining the impacts of long work weeks on driver health, safety and alertness behind the wheel. In addition, one of the largest studies ever conducted using commercial drivers confirmed the 34-hour restart with two nights of rest is more effective at combating fatigue than the previous version,” Padilla said.