New federal safety rules for truck drivers are set to take effect in less than two weeks, and on Tuesday those in the trucking industry opposed to the new regulations shared their concerns before a House subcommittee. NY1's Washington reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report.
Truck drivers across the country are bracing for new regulations, set to take effect July 1, which require they take more rest periods while on the job. The trucking industry calls the rules unnecessary, even excessive, and say they will hurt profits.
"I can confidently tell you that the industry will lose operating flexibility and productivity, which will raise costs. And the rules will raise driver stress and frustration without the corresponding net benefits," said Maverick USA CEO Steve Williams.
"Simply put, if wheels aren't turning, you aren't earning," said Edward Stocklin, a professional truck driver.
Anne Ferro, who heads the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, views it as a simple matter of safety.
"The challenge is ensuring that we're continuing to drive toward safety outcomes that save lives. We have got to get to a point where it is unacceptable to allow a fatal crash with a truck or a bus on our roadway with the public traveling around. We’ve got to get to zero," Ferro said.
Among the changes proposed, a trucker’s work week will be limited to 70 hours, down from 82. Truckers will also be required to take at least one 34-hour break every seven days. Additionally, drivers will have to take a 30 minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration oversees safety enforcement for all commercial vehicles the rules would not apply to bus drivers. That’s despite calls for more government oversight of buses, after fatal crashes like the one in Virginia two years ago of a Charlotte-based Sky Express tour bus en route to New York.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says safety regulations for commercial bus drivers haven not been updated in 70 years. They say that issue is one they are still working to address.
The new safety regulations for truckers are currently being litigated in federal court. However, they will still go into effect on July 1 even if the court has not ruled by then.