Statement of the Truck Safety Coalition On Proposed Rollbacks to the Hours of Service Rules  

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

    Statement of the Truck Safety Coalition On Proposed Rollbacks to the Hours of Service Rules  

    The Truck Safety Coalition, and our volunteers, who are truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, oppose the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) proposal to drastically weaken the hours of service (HOS) rules. Claiming that these changes “provide greater flexibility for drivers subject to the HOS rules without adversely affect safety” is a departure from reality as well as the agency’s main mission: improving truck safety. Instead of moving forward on these rollbacks, the agency must produce compelling data to demonstrate that these changes will not lead to more health problems for truck drivers, more coercion of truck drivers, and more crashes involving trucks drivers operating while fatigued.

    Below are the five rollbacks that the agency is proposing that will chip away at the effectiveness of the life-saving Hours of Service rules:

    • Changing “the short-haul exception to the record of duty status (RODS) requirement available to certain commercial motor vehicle drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on-duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.”
    • Modifying “the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by 2 hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.”
    • Increasing “flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time), and allowing the requirement to be satisfied by an on-duty break from driving, rather than requiring an off-duty break.”
    • Modifying “the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10-hours off duty into two periods: one period of at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and the other period of not less than 2 consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14-hour driving window.”
    • Allowing “one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes, but not more than 3 hours, that would pause a truck driver’s 14-hour driving window, provided the driver takes 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.”

    We will be submitting comments in opposition to these proposed changes as we did when the agency first requested comment after releasing an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). Please see here for our comments to the ANPRM on why the above changes would diminish safety:  https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FMCSA-2018-0248-5191.

    We urge members of the public to join us in stating clearly:

    The FMCSA’s proposed changes to the hours of service rules for truck drivers will not improve safety. The agency is offering flexibility without regard for the fact that it could be exploited by the worst actors in the industry, including drivers who will operate while fatigued and motor carriers who will coerce them to do so. The FMCSA should immediately rescind these proposed changes and focus their time, resources, and efforts on advancing proven safety solutions such as speed limiters and automatic emergency braking.

      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.

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          THUD Bill with Tired Trucker Provision Passes House Committee

          For Immediate Release: May 24, 2016

          Contact:  Beth Weaver 301-814-4088, beth_weaver@verizon.net

          THUD Bill with Tired Trucker Provision Passes House Committee

          The House Committee on Appropriations today passed the Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill, which included Section 132 – the tired trucker provision. We are disappointed that a majority of the committee opposed an amendment offered Congressman David Price (D-NC) to remove this and other anti-safety riders from the bill.

          Daphne Izer, founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) said, “I am frustrated that year after year, our lawmakers are more focused on inserting corporate earmarks into must-pass bills than passing data-driven safety solutions that will save lives and prevent injuries. Not only does this special interest handout, which will change a federal safety rule, have no place in an appropriations bill, it has no place in any bill. The tired trucker provision has not been subject to any public scrutiny, committee hearings, or adequate safety review. Trucking industry lobbyists should not be able to use the appropriations process to drive their agendas, while everyday people like me are forced to wait years for meaningful safety reforms in the gridlocked legislative avenues available to the non-lobbying public.”

          Jennifer Tierney, the Truck Safety Coalition’s North Carolina Volunteer Coordinator stated, “I was very pleased when I heard that Representative Price offered an amendment to remove several anti-safety riders from the THUD bill, and I thank him on his efforts on behalf of families, survivors, and the motoring public. After more than three decades of advocacy, however, I was not surprised that this commonsense, pro-safety amendment was rejected in favor of a corporate handout. With nearly 4,000 people killed and 100,000 injured year as a result of truck crashes, it is time for our lawmakers to finally acknowledge that increasing a truck driver’s driving and working hours is not the solution to the major safety issue of fatigue.”

          “Ultimately, the rejection of the Price amendment has created a tradition that adversely affects policy as well as process. Nevertheless, the Truck Safety Coalition will continue to educate the public and lawmakers about policies and regulations that will reduce the number of large truck crashes and the resulting injuries and fatalities.” Tierney concluded.

          The Truck Safety Coalition is a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT).  The Truck Safety Coalition is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.

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            Statement of Daphne Izer in Response to Senate Appropriations Committee Passing Industry-Written Provision to Rewrite Laws Affecting Truck Drivers’ Hours of Service

            Statement of Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)

            In Response to Senate Appropriations Committee Passing Industry-Written Provision to Rewrite Laws Affecting Truck Drivers’ Hours of Service

            April 21, 2016

            For a third year now, the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a spending bill that was co-authored by a select few trucking industry lobbyists. The industry-penned provision will increase the amount of hours truck drivers can work in a week and deprive truckers of a real weekend off. This is wrong on so many levels. Unfortunately, under the leadership of Senator Susan Collins, who chairs the subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), this practice is business as usual.

            It is outrageous that segments of the trucking industry have been able to use must-pass spending bills as legislative vehicles to drive their agendas that make public safety take a back seat. What is even worse is that the process by which industry lobbyists write and insert their provisions is often highly secretive. This has allowed moneyed interests to make changes to laws governing trucking without so much as a congressional hearing, any federal agency review, or any public input.

            Lawmakers should treat safety interests with the same importance as corporate interests, but this has not been the case with this appropriations subcommittee. For instance, I have been advocating for more than 20 years for laws requiring large trucks to have electronic logging devices (ELDs) and heavy vehicle speed limiters. Yet, it took nearly two decades for a Final Rule on ELDs, and the Final Rule for speed limiters was just delayed for the 28th time since being initiated in 2006. When trucking industry lobbyists realized they miswrote language, however, it only took them several weeks to secure an immediate change to the law from their friend in the Senate.

            This egregious exploitation of the appropriations process is an affront to truck safety and to the memory of the thousands of Americans, including my son Jeff, who were needlessly killed in large truck crashes. With the one year anniversary of the truck crash that killed the five Georgia Southern University nursing students falling one day after this vote, I want to convey my sincerest sympathy to the families of Emily Clark, Catherine “McKay” Pittman, Caitlyn N. Baggett, Abbie L. Deloach, and Morgan J. Bass. Their deaths should serve as grave reminder that lawmakers need to do much more to combat the role that issues like fatigue play in causing truck crashes, including reversing the provision that was just passed.

            It is time for Senator Collins to stop holding this “back door” open for industry insiders to have uninhibited access to write rules and laws that are in their best interest. Instead, she should look at the facts, listen to general public, and use a transparent process.

            Daphne Izer_2016 THUD Appropriations_Statement

              Senate Prepares To Make Truck Safety Even Worse, Advocates Warn

              The industry has given lawmakers language that will set 73-hour maximum work weeks for drivers.

              04/19/2016 Michael McAuliff Senior Congressional Reporter, The Huffington Post
              WASHINGTON — Safety advocates are crying foul over yet another change to trucking safety rules that the industry is trying to slide though Congress with no hearings, no public evaluation and no scientific study.

              The move comes just days after The Huffington Post revealed that large trucking industry groups have spent the last several years quietly circumventing normal legislative procedures to win safety rule concessions — even as truck crashes have been on the rise.

              Normally, transportation policy is decided by the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. But failing to make progress there, the trucking industry seems to have persuaded the Appropriations Committee to add its policy provisions to spending bills.

              In this case, according to advocates who have been briefed about the bill, the industry wrote a provision that will place some sort of cap on truckers’ work, keeping either driving or working hours to 73 per week.

              Exactly what the cap — which is about 30 hours more than most Americans work each week — would mean is not completely clear. Representatives for Democratic and Republican leaders on the committee declined to make the language available to HuffPost, saying it will be public after the full committee considers the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill for 2017 this Thursday.

              “They are writing law in a spending bill. They are completely bypassing the Commerce Committee,” said Jackie Gillian, the president Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

              Gillian says the measure appears to have been written by the American Trucking Associations, a industry lobbying group. If the move succeeds, if could permanently change rest rules for increasingly beleaguered truck drivers — with no public input, no scientific evaluation and no discussion with regulators.

              “It is like the worse of all possible worlds,” Gillian said. “The idea that the ATA has come in and written into law what they want done — I mean, can you imagine if this were the Federal Aviation Administration?”

              The ATA did not say whether it wrote the new measure, though it offered comment on it and seemed to know what language it contained.

              Ironically, the new provision is being dropped into a spending bill in an effort to correct confusion over another measure that was added through the appropriations committee, also without hearings or vetting.

              The ATA first managed to get Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to write legislation in 2014 to temporarily suspend rest rules that took effect in July 2013, which required drivers to get two nights of sleep and capped their working hours at 70 per week.

              Collins’ one-year suspension also required a study of making drivers get two nights of sleep in a row as part of their weekly mandated 34-hour break, known as a restart. But the industry was unsatisfied. It won further modifications in 2015 for this year’s spending bill that made the study more complicated, and said that if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration did not write new rules based on the study, the rules would revert to the old ones.

              The problem was the language didn’t clarify which older rules it was referring to, meaning regulators could be turning back to mandates from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration that capped drivers’ hours at 60 a week — much more rest than under the modern system.

              An ATA spokesman said the new 73-hour cap is meant to address this confusion.

              “What the Senate language appears to do is retain the ability of drivers to reset their work weeks by taking an extended 34-hour off-duty period, with the recognition they are still limited to 73 hours of work (both driving and other work time) in seven calendar days,” Sean McNally said in an emailed comment.

              “We appreciate the recognition by the Senate THUD subcommittee that the legislative drafting error from 2016 needs to be fixed,” he added.

              McNally downplayed advocates’ concerns about over-tried truckers.

              “ATA also knows that while professional truck drivers do not work wildly inflated weekly work hours that anti-truck groups claim, we understand the Subcommittee’s sensitivity to claims a handful of drivers might abuse the restart rule to work long hours in a week,” McNally said. “We look forward to working with members in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle to ensure that professional truck drivers continue to have the opportunity to get extended off-duty rest periods that reset their work week.”

              The issue seems to have left Democratic Senators in a difficult position. While they would prefer the 2013 rules that gave truckers two nights of sleep, they also fear they don’t have the votes to block the 73-hour week.

              Safety advocates told HuffPost that the ATA had tried to attach a 75-hour week to the Commerce Committee’s FAA bill that passed the Senate Thursday, but the measure was blocked.

              Senate staff also declined to give the safety advocates copies of the new measure’s language, which would reveal specifically what the impact would be.

              Gillian believed the reason is because the implications will not be good.

              “They won’t release the sub-committee draft because they know what’s in there, and they know safety groups will go nuts,” Gillian said.

              “This is their [the trucking industry’s] most bold and anti-safety measure yet,” she added.

              Link to Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/truck-safety-rules_us_57166a82e4b0018f9cbb3d28

                From the Truck Safety Coalition… Tennessee Snow Plow and Salt Truck Drivers on the Clock Between 60-80 Hours Straight

                Several “concerned employees” working for the Tennessee Department of Transportation sent an anonymous letter to the state’s DOT commissioner, which prompted an investigation that unearthed troubling information. Public records indicate that the state’s snow plow and salt truck drivers were on the road for upwards of 60 hours consecutively during and after several snow storms that occurred this year. Even though Federal laws exempts these drivers from Hours of Service rules during inclement weather so that the roads are cleared for first responders, the Tennessee DOT’s exploitation of this loophole is egregious. Lawmakers must do more to ensure that unsafe, tired truckers are on not the roads, especially in Tennessee where fatigue played a role in over 1,600 crashes last year.

                Link to Article: http://wjhl.com/2016/03/14/public-records-from-tdot-reveals-snow-plow-drivers-worked-60-to-80-hours-without-sleep/

                The Truck Safety Coalition Team

                  From the Truck Safety Coalition… Pilot Fatigue is Not Acceptable, So Why is Tired Trucking?

                  Since the 2011 Hours of Service rules were first announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in December 2011, the trucking industry has launched annual attacks trying to weaken these regulations. That same year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also announced comprehensive changes to rules governing pilot scheduling. Interestingly, there was much less push back from those in the aviation industry to limit the amount of hours a pilot can work.

                  The FAA rule changes are based on scientific research and data regarding circadian rhythms. The FAA also limited flight time – when the plane is moving under its own power before, during, or after flight – to 8 or 9 hours depending on the start time of the pilot’s entire flight duty period. Additionally, the rule addresses potential cumulative fatigue by placing weekly and 28-day limits on the amount of time a pilot may be assigned to any type of flight duty.

                  As a result of the FAA’s updates, commercial pilots seldom experience a 14-hour workday, which is not the case for many truckers. Given that the odds of dying in a traffic accident is 1 in 14,000, while there is only a 1 in 4.7 million chance of dying on a commercial flight, it is surprising that more people do not share our sense of urgency in needing to address the amount of hours truckers can work daily, weekly, and monthly.

                  It is unfortunate that there has been so much pushback from the trucking industry to embrace much-needed regulations that will prevent fatigue-related truck crash deaths and injuries. TSC will continue to defend HOS rules to ensure that truck drivers are adequately rested so that driving a truck becomes as safe as flying a plane.

                  Link to Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/airplanes-safer-than-buses-and-trucks-sleep_us_56f591d8e4b014d3fe2319e3

                  The Truck Safety Coalition Team

                   

                    STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON RELEASE OF OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL

                    STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,

                    EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

                    ON RELEASE OF OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL

                    ARLINGTON, VA (December 16, 2015) – The United States Congress today released an omnibus spending bill that includes the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations legislation, H.R. 2577.

                    The Truck Safety Coalition worked closely with a coalition of survivors and families of truck crash victims, law enforcement, first responders, truck drivers, trucking companies, and safety advocacy groups to have 33-foot double tractor-trailers removed from the legislation. We hope to continue working with these groups to address missed opportunities to improve truck safety going forward.

                    We want to especially thank Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for their leadership, and the hard work of their staffs, in our fight against these longer, less safe trucks.

                    We successfully advocated for the exclusion of a measure hindering a rulemaking to determine the adequacy of minimum insurance for motor carriers. The minimum financial requirement has not been raised in over 35 years, and is woefully inadequate. Congress should not be using overly burdensome study requirements to stop attempts to evaluate the appropriate level of financial responsibility.

                    While we are disappointed that the Collins rider affecting hours of service (HOS) was included in the omnibus, we will continue to educate the public and our lawmakers about the dangers of tired truckers. Requiring a truck driver to work up to 82 hours per week will only cause more fatigue related truck crashes, and, in turn, more injuries and deaths. Rather than acquiescing to industry demands, Congress should be making data-driven decisions. We hope that the release of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Final Rule will help law enforcement isolate bad actors and help the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) obtain better data on truck driver fatigue.

                    Moving forward, we hope that Members of Congress will no longer try to use the appropriations process as a back door to advance industry-backed agendas. Policies that affect the safety and wellbeing of the public should be subject to open debate, research, and analysis.

                    Overall, the Truck Safety Coalition welcomes the improvements made to the THUD component of the omnibus spending bill, and will continue to work to improve the HOS rules.

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                      After Decades of Advocacy Truck Safety Coalition Welcomes FMCSA Release of Final Rule Requiring Electronic Logging Devices in Large Trucks

                      After Decades of Advocacy Truck Safety Coalition Welcomes FMCSA Release of Final Rule

                      Requiring Electronic Logging Devices in Large Trucks

                      Arlington, VA (December 10, 2015): The Truck Safety Coalition today welcomed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) release of a Final Rule requiring electronic logging devices (ELDs) in all interstate trucks as a long overdue, but much needed advancement in truck safety.

                      Daphne Izer, founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) said, “After advocating for nearly a quarter of a century, after our son Jeff was killed by a tired trucker, Steve and I are elated that the FMCSA has issued this rule that will reduce the deaths and injuries resulting from fatigue-related truck crashes and will hold the trucking industry to a higher standard of safety. We are confident that the realization of one of PATT’s primary goals will ensure that our roads will be safer from the dangers of fatigued truck drivers.”

                      Izer continued, “This technology will reduce the ability of bad actors to skirt federal regulations by modernizing the practice of logging hours. Also, the rule will protect truck drivers from harassment and coercion to exceed the hours they are allowed to operate. ELDs automatically record driving time, thereby removing the ability of truck drivers to circumvent compliance by simply writing down false hours. It is absurd that certain segments of the industry fought so hard to hold on to this archaic business practice from 1938. While this Final Rule is a testament to more than 20 years of successful advocacy to reduce truck driver fatigue, it is bittersweet. While we find solace in knowing that this ELD Final Rule will save an estimated 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from large truck crashes, we wish that we did not have to wait so long to prevail.”

                      Dawn King, President of the Truck Safety Coalition, which is a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and PATT, also lauded the FMCSA for issuing the ELD Final Rule: “The inclusion of ELDs in large trucks is beneficial for everyone who travels on our nation’s road and bridges. Motorist and truckers will be safer as this technology will limit the ability of truck drivers to exceed Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, in turn, reducing the likelihood that big rig drivers will become fatigued while driving. Had this technology been in place back in 2004, I would have been able to celebrate at least one more Christmas with my Dad, who was killed by a fatigued driver just days before the holiday.”

                      “Additionally, this will enhance law enforcement officers’ capacity to enforce HOS restrictions and expedite the process of reviewing a truck driver’s logbook,” King said. “The shift from paperwork to electronic logging will not only save time, but money too – the FMCSA estimates that this rule will result in a benefit or more than $1 billion. While we are pleased with the many benefits that will come along with the implementation of this rule, I would be remiss not to mention our disappointment with the exemption to this rule for trucks built before model year 2000. There should be no exemptions to this life-saving, cost-reducing technology.”

                      John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition added, “We are pleased the ELD Final Rule has been issued, and we look forward to the full implementation by the year 2017. Though this was a major win in fighting truck driver fatigue, in order to fully address this fatal problem more must be done, like improving working conditions, screening for sleep apnea, requiring fewer hours behind the wheel, addressing parking needs, and restructuring compensation.”

                        STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION, ON RELEASE OF FAST ACT CONFERENCE REPORT

                        STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,

                        EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

                        ON RELEASE OF FAST ACT CONFERENCE REPORT

                        ARLINGTON, VA (December 1, 2015) –The Senate and House Conferees today released a conference report for the surface transportation reauthorization bill, H.R. 22. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, as it is now known, removed several dangerous policies, improved upon other anti-safety measures, but unfortunately, included some troubling provisions. We are extremely thankful to the Members of Congress on the Conference Committee that listened to the facts and to the people; their hard work is evidenced by the positive changes made to the final bill.

                        Sections limiting shipper and broker liability in hiring decisions, allowing greater exemptions to hours of service requirements for classes of truck drivers, and prohibiting states from providing further break protections for drivers were ultimately removed from the final bill. These provisions only benefitted private interests at the expense of public safety. We are glad that reason prevailed, and that the Conferees advanced the interests of their constituents rather than the interests of corporations.

                        Language regarding the minimum level of insurance required by large trucks, crash weighting, and teen truckers was also improved. Conferees removed some of the overly burdensome hurdles that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would have to go through in reviewing the required level of minimum insurance for large trucks. They also decided that any crash weighting determination should be reviewed first by the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC), before requiring the FMCSA to engage in a costly ineffective review process. Additionally, by restricting the three-year teen trucker pilot program to veterans and servicemen above the age of 18, Congress greatly restricted the amount of higher-risk drivers that would be allowed to drive trucks across state lines.

                        Regrettably, measures allowing state and industry specific exemptions are still embedded in the bill. Weight exemptions for logging, milk products, and natural gas vehicles will endanger our roads and will set dangerous precedents for future weight exemptions. It is time for Congress to close the backdoor to nationwide weight increase and stop enacting these corporate earmarks.

                        Other troublesome provisions that remain include hiding Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores from public view and implementing a “beyond compliance” point system into CSA scores. Concealing scores that are collected by taxpayer-funded law enforcement officers on tax-payer-funded roads essentially robs the motoring public of two things: the ability to access data that they paid for and public safety.

                        Overall, the enhancements to the final bill shows that the Truck Safety Coalition’s concerns were heard, and we are thankful to the Members of Congress and their staffs that listened.

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                          Read Joan Claybrook’s Statement in Response to the American Trucking Associations (ATA)

                          Statement of Joan Claybrook, Chair and

                          Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

                          American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves is trying to bamboozle the American public into thinking that big rigs driven by overtired and overworked truck drivers is really safer for everyone.  Fortunately, the American public isn’t buying it.  A recent public opinion poll conducted by the well-respected Lake Research Partners shows that 80% of the public strongly opposes allowing truck drivers to work and drive up to 82 hours a week.  It’s not surprising that large margins of the American public also believe it will make our roads less safe.

                          Mr. Graves also makes the phony claim that the provision being pushed by Senator Collins (R-ME) benefiting corporate trucking interests is not being added to the funding bill at the11th hour.    Here are the facts.  There has not been a single congressional oversight hearing in either the House or Senate on making this dangerous and deadly change to current law.  There has not been any comprehensive safety review and analysis by experts.  And, there has not been an open rulemaking process for the public and others to express their views and voice their concerns.  Transparency is what is expected in a democracy when the public’s interests are put ahead of the interests of well-heeled and well-connected industry lobbyists.

                          This is not a new tactic for Senator Collins and the ATA.  Five years ago Senator Collins was responsible for a one-year exemption for Maine from federal truck limits allowing 100,000 pound trucks throughout the state.  The year after the exemption ended, Senator Collins came back and pushed through a twenty-year exemption.  Once again, Senator Collins and the ATA are using the same “playbook”.  We urge Congress to stop this unconscionable and dangerous deal-making at the expense and peril of the American public.

                          Finally, the rebuttal offered up by Mr. Graves is an analysis by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).  ATRI is the research arm of the ATA located at the exact same address as the trucking industry trade association and whose board is comprised of industry executives.  This is hardly an objective, conflict-free, or credible scientific analysis on the impacts of gutting an important existing safety rule.

                          We will continue to fight the enactment of this anti-safety proposal.  This proposal will make our highways more dangerous and that’s why every major public health, consumer, safety and law enforcement group and the families who have lost loved ones in truck crashes oppose the Collins Amendment.  The end result of this David versus Goliath battle against the “who’s who list” of corporate America will have a profound and lasting impact on the safety of our roads.  We urge Congress to put public safety before industry profit.

                            Media Advisory: Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Factor in Truck Crashes – Truck Drivers Need a Weekend Off

                            CONTACT: Beth Weaver, 301-814-4088

                            beth_weaver@verizon.net or

                            Cathy Chase, 571-243-7282

                            cchase@saferoads.org

                            UPDATE: Battle Over Truck Driver Hours of Service Law Reaching Peak

                            12/5: Sen. Collins Issues Statement Saying U.S. DOT Secretary Foxx’s Letter is “Inaccurate” and “Inflammatory”

                            12/6: ATA President and CEO Graves Issues Statement Saying Obama Administration Doesn’t Understand the Consequences of Its Rule; Safety Groups Using “Deceptive Tactics”, “Outright Lies”, “Falsehoods” and “Half-Truths”

                            12/6: Parents Against Tired Truckers Founder Daphne Izer Sends Letter to Sen. Collins Defending Sec. Foxx for Putting Safety First

                            12/6: Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways Chair Joan Claybrook Issues Statement Highlighting Provision Being Pushed Through Without Any Hearings, Safety Reviews or Analysis in Final Hours of Session

                            12/8: Press Conference

                            Every Minute and a Half, a Large Truck Crash Occurs

                            Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Factor in Truck Crashes – Truck Drivers Need a Weekend Off

                            Public Will Pay with Their Lives and Wallets if Trucking Industry “Wish List” Becomes Law

                            WHEN:           Monday, December 8, 2014, 10:30 a.m. EST

                            WHERE:        U.S. Capitol, House Visitor Center room 215

                            WHAT:           Congress is Considering a Major Change to Federal Regulations that Will Dramatically Increase the Number of Hours a Semi-Truck Driver is Allowed to Work in a Week from 70 to 82 Hours.  Only 6 months ago comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured and James McNair was killed in a horrific crash caused by a fatigued truck driver.  U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sent a letter urging Congress to reject this change.

                            This special interest rider is being pushed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to be included in the overall government funding bill being negotiated before Congress adjourns.  There have been no Congressional hearings and no safety reviews.  Also, there has been no Senate debate or vote on the amendment to strip the anti-safety provision sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and numerous Senators.* Safety groups and truck crash victims sent a letter to Appropriations Committee leaders urging them to stop assaults on truck safety and a letter to Secretary Foxx urging recommendation of a presidential veto if anti-safety provisions are included.

                            WHO:             U.S. Congressman James McGovern (D-MA)

                            Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

                            Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, and Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

                            Fred McLuckie, Legislative Director, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

                            Daphne Izer (Lisbon, ME), Co-Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), 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 a recipient of the 2014 White House Champions of Change award.

                            Ron Wood (Washington, D.C.) On September 20, 2004, Ron’s mother Betsy, sister Lisa and her three children, Chance (age 4), Brock (age 2) and Reid (6 weeks old), were killed near Sherman, Texas when a tractor trailer driver fell asleep behind the wheel and crossed a median into oncoming traffic.  The driver collided with two vehicles, killing a total of ten people and injuring two more.

                            BACKGROUND:      

                            • 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.
                            • Adoption of Sen. Collins’ provision will revert the HOS rule to the one in effect when a 2006 survey of truck drivers found an alarming 65% of truck drivers reported they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half admitted to falling asleep while driving in the previous year.(Truck Driver Fatigue Management Survey, FMCSA, 2006).
                            • 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 Hours of Service rule issued by U.S. DOT took effect last year after consideration of 21,000 formal docket comments submitted from drivers, carriers, state law enforcement, safety advocates and trucking 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.
                            • The current rule allows truckers to take a short 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 “Collins amendment” will suspend the safety requirements that prevent drivers from taking back-to-back short rest periods after long weeks, and require two periods of rest between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., dramatically increasing allowable driving hours of truck drivers to more than 80 hours a week.

                            *Sponsors of “Booker Amendment” to retain current 34-Hour Restart Provision: Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

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                              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, Beth_weaver@verizon.net

                              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

                              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.

                              BACKGROUND:      

                              • 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 a.m.to 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).

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