WASHINGTON — Representatives of 10 safety and public advocacy groups and the Teamsters Union have joined in the letter-writing campaign to President Barack Obama concerning the proposed Hours of Service rule that is scheduled to be published in final form Oct. 28. Despite the fact that the rule still has not been sent to the Office of Management and Budget for final approval, a spokesperson for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said the agency was working to meet its deadline.
The proposed rule will save the American public more than $2 billion and create nearly 40,000 jobs in the trucking industry, the organizations said in a letter to Obama dated Oct. 7.
“On behalf of our organizations representing public health and safety advocates, truck drivers, and victims and survivors of truck crashes we are writing to indicate our strong support for the pending reform of the Hours of Service (HOS) rule for truck drivers proposed by the Department of Transportation (DOT),” the groups wrote.
“The DOT proposal addresses a serious and deadly public health and safety problem in the trucking industry. Large truck crashes resulted in 3,380 deaths in 2009, at a cost to the nation of nearly $20 billion, about one-half of all truck related crash costs.”
“The HOS reform rule proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a commonsense reform that will return to the traditional limit on consecutive driving hours and prevent abuse of the minimum 34-hour, off-duty restart between lengthy 70- to 88-hour work weeks,” the letter read.
In the proposed rule, the FMCSA has said it was undecided whether to allow the current 11 hours of driving or revert to 10 hours, but preferred 10 hours. The proposal also calls for a limit on the use of the 34-hour restart. Safety advocate groups have long claimed that multiple use of the 34-hour restart provision during a seven-day period could lead to a 70- to 88-hour work week.
Trucking interests and several Republican members of Congress have criticized the proposal, saying it would cost Americans an additional $1 billion.
“Efforts by special interests to stop or weaken this proposal have failed to acknowledge the significant benefits of HOS reform that will amount to more than $2 billion in savings to the American public,” the Oct. 7 letter to the president read. “The proposed HOS reform rule will have an overdue and positive impact on highway safety, create more industry jobs, and improve the overall health of truck drivers.”
Specifically the organizations said HOS reform rule will:
• Produce $2.2 billion in crash, injury and health cost savings including $1 billion dollars in associated injury and crash costs, and $1.2 billion in health and related medical costs to truck drivers and taxpayers
• Save lives and avoid injuries by preventing truck crashes
• Reduce the number of tired truckers who are involved in truck crashes
• Protect the health and welfare of truck drivers by reducing driving hours and increasing off-duty rest time, and
• Create nearly 40,000 additional jobs in the trucking industry for out-of-work drivers.
With reference to the jobs that would be created, the groups said the proposed rule would also restore many of the nearly 50,000 truck driving jobs that were eliminated from the industry when the current HOS rule was implemented in 2004.
Editor Lyndon Finney may be contacted to comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find more news and analysis from The Trucker, and share your thoughts, on Facebook.