FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 6, 2016
Advocates: Cathy Chase, firstname.lastname@example.org, (o) 202-408-1711 or (c) 571-243-7282
CRASH and PATT: John Lannen, email@example.com, (o) 703-294-6404 or (c) 703-328-5007
Statement of Highway, Auto & Truck Safety Groups in Response to Removal of Truck Driver Safety Protections in Continuing Resolution
4,067 People Killed in Truck Crashes in 2015,
Yet Congress is Poised to Pass “Poison Pill” Provision
Washington, D.C. – Tonight, the text of the FY 2017 Continuing Resolution (Rules Committee Print 114-70) was released revealing that the Obama truck driver hours of service (HOS) rule will be decimated with the removal of the two safety provisions, a two-consecutive night off requirement and a one-week limitation on the use of the 34-hour restart.
Safety groups responded to this news:
Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), said, “In a major assault on the safety of families and truck drivers across the country, the House and Senate Republican leaders just delivered special trucking interests an early Christmas present. Language inserted in the year-end government funding bill repeals key safety features of the Obama Administration’s truck driver hours of service rule intended to combat truck driver fatigue. The Obama rule requires that after a grueling week of 75 or more work hours, truck drivers, who take only the minimum 34-hours off duty between work weeks, must get two consecutive nights of rest during the 34-hour off duty period. Studies show that nighttime sleep is much more restful than attempts to sleep during daytime. Special interests succeeded in getting this rollback despite the growing problem of truck driver fatigue in the industry, unabated increases in truck crash deaths and injuries, and overwhelming public opposition.
However, none of this mattered to trucking interests and their friends on the House and Senate Appropriations Committee. This attack on safety comes at a critical time. Last year, 4,067 people were needlessly killed in crashes involving large trucks, representing an increase of 4 percent from the previous year and a 20 percent increase from 2009. This is the first time truck crash deaths have exceeded 4,000 since 2008. Further, preliminary 2015 federal government data shows 116,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks — an increase of 57 percent since 2009. The annual cost to society from crashes involving commercial motor vehicles is estimated to be over $110 billion.
It is simply unthinkable that any industry with such an abysmal safety record and responsible for so many innocent deaths and injuries could actually find so many willing partners in Congress to push their greedy anti-safety agenda.”
Joan Claybrook, Chair of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, stated, “This action to rip out essential safety protections for hard-working truck drivers who deserve a weekend off for adequate rest and recovery time is yet another example of the grip that corporate trucking interests have on some Members of Congress. The American public is scared of sharing the road with exhausted and overworked drivers behind the wheel of a big rig and with good reason. In fatal crashes involving a large truck and a passenger car, 98% of the deaths are the occupants of the car. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have held more than 100 congressional hearings this year. However, the Republican Committee leaders never allowed a single hearing on this important issue. Instead, the repeal of the truck safety provisions was secretly attached to a must pass spending bill because they knew it wouldn’t pass muster. This action will literally have life and death consequences for truck drivers and all motorists sharing the roads with them. This ‘tired trucker’ provision has no place in this bill and Congress has no business coddling trucking interests using a backdoor legislative maneuver to circumvent public debate and conceal safety impacts.”
Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.), responded, “Once again, our lawmakers caved to special interests and put everyone who travels our roads at risk by including the “tired trucker” provision in the Continuing Resolution. As a mother who began advocating to make trucking safer after my son Jeff was killed by a truck driver who fell asleep while driving, I am devastated that language to increase the number of hours that truck drivers can drive and work was included in a must-pass bill. This rollback of the Hours of Service rules will do nothing to address the issue of driver fatigue and will certainly not reduce the number of fatigue related crashes. It does, however, show a disregard for the nearly 100,000 people who have been killed in truck crashes since I began working to make trucking safer, and the families like mine who are left to cope with the grief that decisions like these cause.”