The proposed Hours of Service (HOS) rule for truck drivers issued on Aug. 19 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a major setback for highway safety, increasing the potential for deadly accidents by forcing drivers to log even more hours on the road.
The new regulation is a repackaged version of the old rule that was struck down last year by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit because the government failed to consider the health of drivers in crafting the rule. Today’s proposal has once again ignored the health of drivers and the safety of the driving public, increasing the number of hours that drivers can stay behind the wheel without a rest break.
“This proposed rule is yet another outrageous power grab by ruthless companies,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. “Some greedy employers are trying to squeeze drivers to enrich their bottom line at the expense of public safety on America’s highways.”
Two years ago, the Bush administration overhauled the HOS rule, raising drivers’ time on the road for the first time in six decades. The appeals court said the changes were “arbitrary and capricious” and struck down the rule that raised driving time without rest from 10 hours to 11 hours. Today’s proposed rule would still force drivers to stay behind the wheel for 11 hours.
Under the rules, truck drivers not required to have a commercial license who travel within a radius of 150 miles, now would be allowed to work two, 16-hour days a week. Wal-Mart and other retailers pushed unsuccessfully for the change in Congress earlier this year.
“Since Congress couldn’t do Wal-Mart’s bidding, it appears the Transportation Department will,” Hoffa said. “What reasonable person who has traveled our nation’s roads and highways thinks that forcing tired truck drivers to stay behind the wheel even longer is good public policy?”
Truckers who use sleeper berths will be required to rest for eight hours and take another two hours off duty before resetting their daily driving schedule.
“It’s ludicrous,” said Tyson Johnson, Teamsters’ National Freight Director. “This requires a driver to drive 10 hours every 20 to 22 hours, which will significantly increase fatigue.”