Advocates Fear New Rule Will Keep Tired Truckers on the Road
Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater has met with families and advocacy groups to discuss the proposals several times, but so far he?s been unwilling to budge on the proposed new rule. But Slater has just announced that the comment period for the rule will be extended another 90 days, until the fall.
Even so, DOT spokesman Mike Longo says the opponents misunderstand the rule. He says it actually reduces the time a driver is on the road. That?s because under the current system, in the "worst-case scenario" a trucker could work 20 hours out of a 28-hour period. Under the new system, a driver could only work up to 12 hours in a day.
"After the 12th hour there?s a huge fatigue increase," Longo tells WebMD. " We?re trying to come up with not only a safe rule, which is number one, but also one that will work in today?s economy."
Parts of the rule are also under challenge by the trucking industry, and the changes could be tied up in the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee indefinitely.
"We think the number of crashes would actually go up, when [the Department of Transportation believes] the number of crashes would come down," says David Osiecki, vice president for safety and operations of the American Trucking Association. "We base that on the fact that more trucks and more drivers in the industry are operating during daylight hours."