Imposed not even a year ago, the 70-hour limit on a US trucker’s workweek could be abolished by the Congress if an amendment that gets to be voted on the Senate Appropriations Committee today passes.
The new limit was imposed back in July 2013 and, although was the culmination of a 15-year effort to reduce highway fatalities stemming from tired truck-driving, was immediately criticized by the transportation industry.
“What has become clear during the past 11 months is that the new federal rules have presented some unintended consequences that may not be in the best interest of public safety, truck drivers and the businesses and customers who depend on their services,” said a spokesman for one of the Senators sponsoring the rule change.
“At the heart of this rule was an expectation to minimize the risk when tired drivers are behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound truck,” said Anne Ferro, head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “The hours are exceedingly long.”
According to Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican that rallied behind the amendment, the new change would revert the limit to the industry’s 82-hour “workweek,” as it wants to address past limitations brought by the lower limit.
The US faces increased safety issues from crashes associated to hauling, as the fatal-crash rate in the trucking industry grew each year between 2009 and 2012, reaching 3,912 deaths in truck crashes in 2012.