Safety Groups Respond to U.S. DOT IG Rubber Stamping Study on Truck Driver Hours of Service Safety Protections

In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in large truck crashes in the United States

Safety Groups Respond to U.S. DOT IG Rubber Stamping Study on Truck Driver Hours of Service Safety Protections

Study Created with Pre-Determined Outcome of Failure

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Late last week, the Office of the Inspector General (IG) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) sent a letter to Congress regarding a study of safety reforms to the truck driver hours of service (HOS) rules. By sending this letter, the IG essentially gives the imprimatur of this well-respected office to a study that was set up for failure at the onset and will ultimately result in the continuation of the widespread industry problem of truck driver fatigue.  Parameters of the study and what it was charged with finding were widely attributed to being crafted by corporate trucking interests in an effort to undue safety reforms which took effect in 2013.  While the IG may have signed off that the study was carried out as mandated by Congress, the IG did not assess the underlying data used.  Rather, the IG simply “rubber stamped” that the “junk science” study checked off all the boxes required by Congress when it created the study.

As part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill, corporate trucking interests and their friends in Congress inserted legislative language that suspended enforcement of the 2013 HOS reforms until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) completed further study on the effectiveness of the provisions.  Concerned that the study would not produce results favorable to their agenda, these same interests inserted additional language into the FY 2016 THUD bill which raised the bar on what the study had to find. This backroom industry rewrite all but guaranteed the preordained outcome that was realized today.  These policy provisions were inserted to a funding bill behind closed doors without any public input. Further, they belie decades of irrefutable data that shows that driver fatigue is a serious safety problem within the trucking industry.  “When I began advocating for truck safety after a truck driver fell asleep while driving and killed my son Jeff, I never thought I would still be fighting on the issue of fatigue more than two decades later,” said Daphne Izer, Co-Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), “Truck drivers should not be forced to drive and work such grueling schedules, and the public should not be subjected to the risk that tired truckers pose to all road users.”

The study, while yet to be made available for public review, could have only examined 15 months of data as the Obama reforms went into effect in July of 2013 and were suspended at the behest of the certain segments of the trucking industry in December of 2014.  The fact that the study was fatally flawed from the start and reached such a dubious conclusion is totally unsurprising. “This study does nothing to shed light on the serious problem of truck driver fatigue,” said Jackie Gillan, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.  “But, it does shed light on the power of special trucking interests to run to their friends in Congress and repeal important health and safety rules.  Sadly, the U.S. DOT IG has become yet another political pawn in this tortured process.”

Common sense and real world experience clearly show that truck driver fatigue is a serious and pervasive safety problem, no matter how much special trucking interests wish to believe otherwise. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has repeatedly cited fatigue as a major contributor to truck crashes and included reducing fatigue related crashes on the 2017-18 Most Wanted List of safety changes.  In addition, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has warned that drowsy driving can have the same consequences as driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  “Since 2009, truck crashes have shot up by 45 percent, resulting in a 20 percent increase in truck crash fatalities and a 57 percent increase in truck crash injuries,” stated John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition. “Instead of focusing on requiring crash avoidance technologies in large trucks that would have actually reduced crashes, FMCSA was forced to spend time and money conducting an ill-conceived study based on flawed data.”

While high profile crashes like the one that killed comedian James McNair and seriously injured Tracy Morgan grab national headlines, fatigue-related crashes happen to families all over the country every day.  Until leaders in Congress are willing to face the real facts about truck driver fatigue, far too many Americans will continue to be needlessly killed by tired truckers.


Press Conference Call: Senator Booker, Senator Blumenthal, Truck Crash Victims’ Families, Safety Groups, Law Enforcement, Labor Groups, Trucking Companies Unite in Opposition to Attack on Truck Safety

CONTACT: Beth Weaver, 301-814-4088,



Trucking Allies Pushing Sen. Collins’ Amendment to Take Away Truck Drivers “Weekends” of Rest and Replace With Another Day of Driving 

Senate to Debate FY 2015 THUD Appropriations Bill This Week

Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Problem in the Trucking Industry – Collins Amendment is Not a “Minor Adjustment” But a “Major Assault” on Truck Safety

 Safety First – Every Minute and a Half of Every Day a Large Truck Crash Occurs

WHEN:           Tuesday, June 17th, 2:15 p.m. EST

WHAT:           Senators, safety groups, truck drivers, freight transportation companies, law enforcement, and victims of truck crashes involving fatigued drivers will discuss an amendment to strike the Collins Anti-Safety Amendment (which was passed by the Senate Committee on Appropriations and is now part of the underlying bill).  The Collins amendment will change the current hours of service rule for truck drivers to replace off-duty rest time with on-duty driving hours.  “Weekend” rest period will be replaced with more driving hours.      

The Collins Amendment will suspend two important safety features of the truck driver Hours of Service (HOS) rule: 1. A limit on how often the 34-hour “restart” or rest period can be taken – once in a 168 hour or 7-day period, and 2. A requirement of two periods of rest between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during the “restart.”  These two features were included in the truck driver HOS rule to address chronic fatigue that occurs when long haul truck drivers are behind the wheel of a truck for 11 continuous hours, working 14-hour shifts daily and were able to constantly put in up to 82 hours of work, week after week. The amendment to strike will retain these critical safety protections.

WHO:             Senator Cory A. Booker (D-NJ)

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

Joan Claybrook, Consumer Co-Chair, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Lane Kidd, Managing Director, The Trucking Alliance

Steve Williams, Chairman and CEO, Maverick USA and Chairman, The Trucking Alliance

Fred McLuckie, Legislative Director, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Steve Keppler, Executive Director, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance representing commercial vehicle law enforcement 

Daphne Izer (Lisbon, ME) Daphne lost her 17-year-old son Jeff on October 10, 1993, when a Wal-Mart truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel. Jeff and three of his friends were killed, and another was seriously injured.  She is the Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), and is a 2014 recipient of the White House’s Champions of Change award.

 Ron Wood (Washington, DC) Ron lost his mother, Betsy Wood, and his sister, Lisa Wood Martin, and his sister’s three children Chance (4), Brock (2) and Reid (6 weeks) Martin when a truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel, crossed a median and crashed into Lisa’s SUV and a pick-up truck.  A total of ten people were killed and one was seriously injured. The catastrophic outcome of the Wood family’s crash prompted a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation.


  • The current hours of service (HOS) rule for truck drivers allows truckers to drive 11 hours in a 14 hour work day and take a rest period of just 34 hours off-duty before beginning a new work week, which can include up to 60 or 70 hours of driving. The new rule that only took effect in July 2013 requires that the 34 hour rest period include two periods of time off and rest between 1 a.m. to 5 ensure restorative sleep.  It also requires that the 34-hour restart be used not more than once every 168 hours or 7 days.  The Collins amendment will dramatically increase allowable driving and other work hours of truck drivers to more than 80 hours a week, essentially adding another work day to an already long work week. The Collins amendment will suspend the safety requirement that prevents drivers from continually taking only short back-to-back rest periods after long weeks of driving and work.
  • Truck driver fatigue and hours- of service compliance has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years.
  • Truck crashes are on the rise.  From 2009 to 2012, truck crash injuries increased by a staggering 40 percent, resulting in 104,000 people injured in 2012.  During this same period, truck crash fatalities increased three years in a row, a cumulative 16 percent increase, resulting in nearly 4,000 deaths in 2012.
  • Commercial motor vehicle crashes result in a cost of $99 billion to the U.S. every year.
  • The current rule was issued by U.S. DOT after consideration of 21,000 formal docket comments submitted from drivers, carriers, state law enforcement, safety advocates and industry associations; 6 public listening sessions and an online Q&A forum; review of 80 sources of scientific research and data; a Regulatory Impact Analysis of nearly 50 scientific sources – All Pushed Aside by an Amendment that was not Reviewed, Subject to a  Congressional Hearing or Available to the Public Before the Committee Mark-Up.
  • Changing the hours-of-service rules now, not even a year since becoming effective, creates significant uniformity and consistency problems across the country for law enforcement.
  • A 2000 study revealed that 65% of truck drivers report they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half admit they fell asleep while driving in the previous year (Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study, U.S. DOT, 2000).


Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers, Appears on World News with Diane Sawyer

ABC US News | ABC Celebrity News

The Truck Safety Coalition Supports the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act of 2011, S.1950

In 2010 truck crash fatalities increased by almost nine percent, from 3,380 in 2009 to 3,675 in 2010.

We support the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act of 2011, S.1950 and urge Congress to retain the safety improvements therein including:

Improved Registration Requirements for Motor Carriers (Title I): a written proficiency exam for applicant MCs; restrictions on “reincarnated” MCs; evaluating minimum financial responsibility (insurance) requirements; increased penalties for operating without registration; the ability to revoke registration for unsafe operations causing imminent hazard

Improved CMV Safety (Title II): evaluation of crashworthiness standards for CMVs; improving accountability of foreign MCs

Improved Driver Safety (Title III): requiring electronic on board recorders (EOBRs); creation of a safety fitness rating methodology; establishing a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners; development of a plan for a National Driver Record Notification System; minimum entry-level training requirements for CMV operators, including behind-the-wheel

“Safe Roads Act” (Title IV): establishing a National Clearinghouse for Controlled Substance and Alcohol Test Results of CMV operators
Improved Enforcement (Title V): increases penalties for most egregious offenders (out of service and financial penalties)
“Compliance, Safety, Accountability” (Title VI): establishes CSA grant program; new entrant safety assurance grant program; border enforcement grant program; high priority grant program
“Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act” (Title VII)
“Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation” (Title VIII): truck size and weight study including crash frequency and causes on NHS where overweight trucks are permitted, and infrastructure impacts; compilation of existing size and weight exemptions on the NHS
“Miscellaneous” (Title IX): study of detention time and HOS violations

Truck Driver in Slattery Crash Sentenced to Five Years

Truck Drivers Being Pushed Beyond Their Limits to Drive Excessively Long Hours
Truck Driver Who Pled Guilty to Aggravated Vehicular Homicide and Aggravated
Vehicle Assault Sentenced to Five Years Sending a Strong Message to Truck Drivers
Arlington, VA (January 12, 2012):  The truck driver behind the wheel of a triple trailer truck who had fallen asleep and crashed into the back of the Slattery family car resulting in the death of Susan Slattery and serious injuries to her and her husband Ed Slattery’s two sons was sentenced today in the Portage County Court House of Portage County, Ohio.  He was charged by a grand jury with one count of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of aggravated vehicle assault to which he pled guilty.  The judge sentenced him to five years sending a strong message to truck drivers that they will be held responsible for their actions and decisions on the road.
Ed Slattery responded to the news, “While nothing can bring back my wife or restore my sons’ complete health, I want people – the motoring public and truck drivers alike – to know that our roadways are not as safe as we believe them to be. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) just issued a rule allowing truck drivers to drive 11 hours a day and up to 70 hours per week, and truck driver fatigue is an industry-wide health crisis.  In a recent survey almost half of truck drivers (48%) admit that they have actually fallen asleep while driving during the previous year, and 65% of truckers report that they are often or sometimes drowsy.” Slattery continued, “I want truck drivers to know that when they are pushed to surpass these already excessive driving hours, they – and not the companies – may personally wind up paying the price of jail time, or even worse.  Truck drivers deserve the same protections provided to airline pilots.  It makes absolutely no sense that our government has created a safety hierarchy of sorts where truck drivers fall to the bottom.  This system is driving truckers and surrounding motorists to our graves.”
The Slattery family crash occurred on August 16, 2010 around 11:45 a.m. near the 190-mile marker on the Ohio Turnpike in Streetsboro.  Susan Slattery was one of the 3,675 people killed in truck crashes in 2010.  This number of deaths was an increase of 8.7% from 2009 and was contrary to the decrease in overall motor vehicle crash fatalities which went down to its lowest level since 1949.
“Truck drivers are paid by the mile which results in a financial incentive to drive as fast and as far as they can,” stated John Lannen, Truck Safety Coalition Executive Director.  “The DOT issued this inadequate hours of service (HOS) rule and still has not required electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) in all trucks and buses.  They are perpetuating an unsafe work environment for truck drivers and endangering all those on the roads.”
Studies show that truck crash risk increases exponentially after 8 consecutive hours of driving and the highest level of crash risk occurs during both the 10th and 11th hours of consecutive driving.  Decreasing truck driver’s HOS by one hour would limit the time they are on the road during this period of highest crash risk.
Slattery concluded, “This is not a happy day for my family and we feel badly for the truck driver and his family but responsibility must be taken for the crash.  What happened to my family is clear and compelling proof of why the HOS rule must be changed and what the real costs of fatigue in the trucking industry are.  The truck driver HOS rule must be based on scientific studies, not the financial desires of the trucking industry.  While the trucking industry may claim that reducing the HOS to 10 consecutive hours would negatively impact their bottom line, I want to point out that it would produce more than $2 billion a year in crash, injury and health cost savings.  My family’s crash alone cost millions and health care costs for the rest of my son Matthew’s life are estimated at beyond $18 million. Our lives will never be the same but I will continue to work to reduce truck driver fatigue so that another family will not have to suffer the tremendous loss that my family lives with every single day.”



Truck Safety Coalition

October 18, 2011



Truck driver fatigue is a serious highway safety problem that threatens all of us.  Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) (pronounced EYH-ott) is planning to offer an amendment this afternoon that would block implementation of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s rulemaking on truck driver Hours of Service (HOS).  The DOT’s proposed changes to the current HOS rule are commonsense and cost-effective and would improve safety for everyone. We are being told that Senator Ayotte plans to offer the amendment on the Senate Floor during debate on HR 2112, the “Minibus” Appropriations bill which will include Transportation allocations.



Please call Senator Ayote’s Legislative Director Adam Hechavarria at 202-224-3324 or email him at .


Please also call your Senators’ offices and urge them to oppose any amendment to stop the HOS Rulemaking.  Click in the top right corner to get your Senators’ numbers.


This is a sample – if possible please make a couple of quick changes to personalize your message.

You can save this email, then copy and paste the following information into an email, then add your personal edits and send to Adam Hechavarria.


I am writing to urge Senator Ayotte not to offer an amendment stopping the Department of Transportation’s current rulemaking on truck driver hours of service.


Truck driver fatigue is a serious safety problem that threatens all of us every day, on every major road, in every state. Each year on average, 4,000 people are needlessly killed and 100,000 more are injured in truck crashes. The National Transportation Safety Board has warned of the dangers of truck driver fatigue because it is a major factor in these crashes.


During the current rule which allows 77 hours a week or more of driving and more working hours beyond that, 65% of drivers reported that they often or sometimes felt drowsy while driving and 48% said they had fallen asleep while driving in the previous year. These overly tired truckers are driving loads up to 80,000 lbs. or more at highway speeds alongside families in small passenger vehicles.


Not only have two unanimous court decisions overturned the rule, but the rule also contradicts the DOT’s own research which shows that the crash risk of truck drivers increases dramatically after 8 consecutive driving hours. Trucking interests are falsely claiming the current rule has resulted in a reduction in truck crashes. Yet, no study or data directly links the recent decline in deaths with the rule, and truck crash deaths actually increased during 2004 and 2005, the first 2 years of the current rule.


The proposed rule will save lives, improve driver health, reduce costs to society and provide an estimated 40,000 jobs. I ask that Senator Ayotte put the safety of motorists first and foremost.


For More Information, contact the Truck Safety Coalition, 703-294-6404

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.


John Lannen's Sgnature

John Lannen
Executive Director
Truck Safety Coalition