Eliminating Truck Drivers’ Weekend Off Will Result in Death, Devastation, and Danger on our Roads

WASHINGTON, DC (December 10, 2014) – Ed Slattery and Larry Liberatore, both Maryland residents who lost loved ones in truck crashes due to truck driver fatigue, sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) urging the chairwoman to ensure that critical regulations governing truck safety remain in full effect and are not rolled back in the 2015 government spending bill. Two days remain until the deadline to pass a spending bill expires. The letter comes in support of public safety, labor, public health, and consumer groups as well as Administration efforts to ensure that truck drivers receive adequate rest and are not driving fatigued on the nation’s roads and highways.

“As you know from our meetings, letters and emails, truck driver fatigue irrevocably altered our families and left our remaining members afflicted with grief and pain,” the safety advocates and Truck Safety Coalition volunteers wrote. “Larry lost his son, Nick, when a tired trucker carrying a load of steel veered across three lanes, and ran over the car in which Nick was a back seat passenger. Ed lost his wife, Susan, and his sons, Matthew and Peter, were seriously injured when a truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel of his triple-trailer truck and ran over their family’s car and then burst into flames. Peter was conscious to hear the paramedics declare his mother dead and Matthew suffered permanent traumatic brain injury. Truck driver fatigue crashes are sudden, brutal and unforgiving.”

Special trucking interests are now working with Senator Collins (R-ME) to repeal a truck safety regulation that will result in a significant increase in the working hours of truck drivers from 70 to 82 hours and a reduction in their off-duty rest time. This rider comes despite overwhelming public opposition (80 percent) to raising the number of work hours for truck drivers. In addition, 80 percent of Americans say they would feel less safe if legislation were passed to raise the number of hours a semi-truck driver is allowed to work in a week from 70 to 82 hours. Truck driver fatigue is a known major safety problem, and has been for over 70 years. The crash that happened last summer, when comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured and his friend, James McNair, was killed on the New Jersey Turnpike by a tired Walmart truck driver, is but one example of the devastation that occurs from fatigue.

The letter continues, “The current hours of service rules governing rest requirements for truck drivers are based on years of study and sound scientific research in addition to a review of public comments. They should remain firmly in place.  In 2012 large trucks were involved in 3,700 accidents with close to 4,000 fatalities and 104,000 injuries. With so many crashes, we should be examining further limitations on hours of service, not suspending the rules currently in place. At the very least, hours of service requirements should not be suspended during further study, but rather maintained until evidence illustrates a change would not pose a threat to public safety.”

Read the full letter here.