Impact of Hours of Service Rules: What is the truth?

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I would like to know the truth of the matter regarding yesterday’s Amendment to the THUD (Transportation, Housing, & Urban Development) bill suspending the 34 Hour Restart Rule for truck drivers for a year while a study is conducted, as well as the requirement for truckers to have two consecutive nights with sleep during the 1-5 a.m. time period.

The American Trucking Associations are saying that there have been unintended consequences due to those two provisions of DOT’s Hours of Service (HOS) rule implemented last July. ATA says that, “…the motor carrier industry’s safety performance while operating under the former 34-hour restart rule from 2004 through 2012 (latest data available). The number of truck-involved fatalities dropped by 21 percent between 2004 through 2012, and the number of truck-involved injuries dropped by 20 percent over the same timeframe. The only publicly available fatigue-related data from the Trucks Involved in Fatal Accidents database (now discontinued due to lac of US DOT funding) showed a very low percentage of fatal crashes involved fatigue–less than 2% with the latest year (2009) coming in at 1.4%.”  (Taken from a letter sent by the ATA on June 3, 2014, to the chairs and co-chairs of the Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, & Urban Development, & Related Agencies)

On the other hand, Anne Ferro (FMCSA) says this: “Since 2009, we’ve seen an 18 percent increase in large truck crash fatalities. To put that in perspective, in one year alone, large trucks were involved in 317,000 traffic crashes resulting in an average of 75 deaths per week. That’s 11 per day.”

According to Ferro, the proposed amendment would cause a setback in DOT attempts to decrease driver fatigue and truck crash fatalities. Read more here: http://1.usa.gov/1hzbF59

Anne Ferro also said: “Fatigue is under-reported in crash accounts because drivers often don’t want to admit to being at-fault or sleepy. However, we know that driver fatigue is a leading factor in large truck crashes; in fact, analysis has shown that upward of 13 percent of commercial drivers involved in a crash were considered to have been fatigued at the time of that crash.”

What is the truth?

Truck Driver Fatigue: 1.4% vs 13%

Truck-Related Fatalities: Dropped 21% vs Increased 18%

I don’t know. But I do know that there were 2 horrific deaths caused by a truck driver on May 4, 2013 near Greensboro, Georgia. And I hear of many more all too often.

In our crash, log books were never found and the issue of driver fatigue was not even mentioned in the SCRTE Crash Report put together by the Georgia State Patrol. The fact that there were no log books is not affecting the charges one iota.

In addition, in many truck crash fatalities, the truck driver survives and the driver/passengers in the other vehicle do not. The victim cannot offer any input. In our case, I am alive to question what happened.

Senators on the Appropriations Committee were asked to make a quick decision based on the presentation by Senator Collins and the debate they heard over the course of less than half an hour. Many of them were confused about this issue.

The American Trucking Associations claim that those two restrictions–34-hr. restart provision and sleeping 2 nights from 1-5 a.m. have caused truckers to put more trucks on the road during congested daytime hours and that this is causing  more accidents. Is this the truth?

* “Why Congress shouldn’t roll back safety provisions set in place to keep tired truckers off the road”: http://1.usa.gov/1hzbF59

* “Administration to Congress: Leave trucker schedule rules alone.” Read more: http://bit.ly/1ktZuXA

You can hear the half-hour debate & vote over this Amendment at the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting on June 5, 2014:  http://youtu.be/JeuOqy_lOEc

( Video clips of AnnaLeah and Mary during their life. Audio: Recording of the public livestream of the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting on June 5, 2014, when an amendment was introduced and passed to suspend two of the components of the HOS rules for truck drivers.)

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