The Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations bill is likely coming to the Senate floor this week, and as it currently stands now, language is included in the bill that would suspend the Hours of Service 34-hour restart provision for a year and increase the number of hours truck drivers would be allowed on the road each week.
Some motor carriers push their drivers to squeeze every possible hour out of them that they can – 60 to 70 hours or more in a week depending on their operation – leaving a driver only 34 hours, 14 hours shy of a weekend, to restart their clock and get back on the road for another 60 to 70 hours of driving time. That adds up to cumulative fatigue, and the Teamsters Union is not interested in having its drivers and their families share the road with overworked and fatigued drivers. Limiting the already short 34-hour restart provision to once every seven days (168 hours) is not unreasonable. This essentially allows drivers to use the restart every other week instead of each week, getting some proper rest in between those periods. The requirement that drivers have two consecutive rest periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. is designed to address fatigue related to constant back-of-the clock work and give drivers rest during the body’s regular circadian rhythm. The Senate Transportation Appropriations bill includes language that would undo those two critical safeguards and permit drivers behind the wheel for more than 80 hours in a week!
Senator Booker of New Jersey will be offering an amendment to strip this language from the bill. We strongly encourage all Local Unions and Joint Councils to contact your Senators and ask that they vote YES on the Booker Amendment.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Field and Political Action at (202) 624-6993.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has reported that there were more than 4,000 fatalities resulting from large truck and bus-related crashes in 2011, and that fatigue is a leading factor in crashes involving large trucks. The recent crash involving actor and comedian Tracy Morgan, in which the Walmart truck driver was allegedly awake for 24 hours, illustrates all too well the danger posed by driver fatigue. The Teamsters Union is not interested in having our drivers and their families share the road with overworked and fatigued drivers. Please contact your Senators today and ask that they protect truck drivers and everyone who uses our nation’s highways.