DOT secretary against longer hours for truck drivers

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is urging Senate and House Appropriations committee members to reject an amendment that would allow semi-truck drivers to drive for longer hours.  

In a letter to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, on Thursday, Foxx said drivers need adequate rest to keep themselves and the other people they share the road with safe. 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is pushing an amendment to the Senate Appropriations bill that would increase the limit of hours truckers are allowed to drive from 70 to 82 hours a week, suspending the 34-hour rest rule required under the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) truck and safety regulations.

“The evidence clearly shows that truck drivers are better rested and more alert after two nights of sleep than one night and that unending 80-hour work weeks lead to driver fatigue and compromise highway safety,” Foxx said in his letter. 

Foxx cited a recent field study, mandated under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, in which drivers who only had one night of sleep scored significantly lower on safety assessments.

“I therefore urge you to consider alternatives that fall short of repealing or suspending any portion of DOT’s 2011 truck and safety rule,” he said. “The safety of the driving public is at stake.”

In an email sent Friday evening, Kevin Kelley, a spokesman for Sen. Collins said Foxx’s letter is full of “inflammatory and inaccurate assertions.” 

“The letter is filled with rhetoric and not only ignores the Department’s own data, but also the peer review of its data,” he said. 

“It also ignores facts outlined in a letter from the former Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Annette Sandberg who stated that Sen. Collins’s proposed changes would make the roads safer, ” he said citing the document sent in June to Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Richard Shelby (R- Ala.)  

Kelley said the Obama Administration forces truck drivers onto the roads during rush hour when data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has shown that’s when the highest number of accidents occur. 

Tags Anthony Foxx Barbara Mikulski Fatigue Patty Murray Road traffic safety Sleep Susan Collins Truck driver

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