Congress is poised to suspend trucker safety regulations as part of an end-of-year budget deal, despite the increase in public demand for such regulations prompted by the tragic crash involving comedian Tracy Morgan and a Walmart truck whose driver allegedly fell asleep at the wheel.
The provisions at risk exist to ensure truck drivers get enough rest, by requiring two overnight rest periods between trucker work weeks, and curtailing practices that allowed up to 82 hours of work a week. Corporate trucking and shipping interests are also pushing for significant truck weight increases in several states; forcing 39 states to allow longer trailer lengths of 33 feet on streets and highways to benefit FedEx and other trucking companies.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says he strongly opposes the industry-backed proposal. His concerns for the safety of truck drivers and other road users are echoed by leaders of the nation’s public health and safety, labor, environment and consumer groups, as well as victims and survivors of truck crashes, who are together urging Congressional leaders involved in the negotiations of the funding bill to reject anti-safety provisions from being included.
Large vehicles such as semi-trucks are inherently dangerous due to their size and weight, and as such need to be regulated in a way that puts responsibility on trucking companies to ensure their drivers are well rested, properly trained and adequately paid.