ARLINGTON, VA (September 24, 2018) – The United States Congress recently released a compromise version of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill of 2018. We were pleased that this bipartisan, bicameral agreement rejected two unsafe amendments that would have jeopardized public safety on roads at a time when truck crashes, injuries, and fatalities continue to rise.
The Duncan Amendment would have indemnified shippers and brokers that hire unsafe motor carriers. Despite being presented as a “national hiring standard,” we were pleased lawmakers listened to safety advocates and realized that the provision was anything but that. In fact, the “standards” set such a low threshold for shippers and brokers to make hiring decisions that they would have likely reduced safety accountability across the board as well as prevented affected parties from being able to seek justice following a crash.
The Denham Amendment would have preempted state laws that provide rest breaks and other critical protections to commercial motor vehicle drivers. Such state laws were designed to reduce fatigue and to protect workers from coercive, unsafe conditions. By removing the Denham provision that would have precluded truck drivers from being able to access state-mandated meal and rest breaks, Members of Congress made the right decision for truck drivers as well as the general public.
While we are certainly pleased that lawmakers stripped out the aforementioned riders from the FAA Reauthorization, we would be remiss not to mention that these anti-truck safety provisions should have never been added in the first place to critical legislation pertaining to aviation. It is time for lawmakers to stop using back-doors and must-pass bills to surreptitiously enact industry demands that diminish safety for our nation’s truck drivers as well as those with whom they share the road. Policies that affect public safety, Americans’ ability to access justice, or the work conditions of hard-working truck drivers should all be subject to open debate, research, and analysis.