Booker amendment reinstates trucker fatigue rule

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced an amendment on reinstating truck driving fatigue rules to the Transportation spending bill being considered by the Senate.

“It is paramount that Congress do more to improve transportation safety,” Booker said on the Senate floor Thursday. “Truck driver fatigue is a leading cause of truck driver accidents.”

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) came under criticism for moving to roll back requirements that truck drivers be given time off the job between 1 and 5 a.m. on consecutive nights if they have worked more than 70 hours in a week. Her provision received a bipartisan vote of 21-9 in committee.

“All of us are committed to safer roads,” Collins said in defense of her provision. She serves as ranking member of the relevant Appropriations subcommittee.

“Many of our drivers want to drive during the overnight hours because the statistics overwhelmingly show that this is the safest times for them to be on the roads,” Collins added.

Booker said his amendment would “maintain critical evidence-base safety rules that reduce truck driver fatigue.” It would keep in place the Department of Transportation rule while a study is conducted on whether it actually reduces trucking accidents.

“We believe it is absolutely unacceptable to consider suspending these rules while the study is being done,” Booker said. “The current rule is preventing crashes and preventing the loss of life.” 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has projected that the truck driver scheduling rules will prevent 1,400 crashes a year. 

On Thursday, the Senate officially begins consideration of H.R. 4660, a $120 billion “minibus” spending bill that funds the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

The Senate is expected to continue to work through amendments to the bill next week. 

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