Tired truck drivers cause some terrible crashes on the roads of Georgia. However, fewer people are aware that regulations intended to improve the problem were defeated last year.
The scuppering of new rules to keep tired truckers off the road was greeted as a victory for the trucking industry, reported Associated Press.
Last December GOP lawmakers blocked the outgoing Obama administration’s safety rules which were aimed to keep more tired truckers off the highway.
The report stated the American Trucking Associations is also seeking to block state laws that require additional breaks for truckers that go over and above what federal rules require.
The American Trucking Associations says there should be one uniform national rule on work hours for interstate truckers.
The December decision alarmed safety advocates who feared it signals a wider rollback of transportation safety regulations. The Republican party which holds the Presidency and controls both Houses of Congress traditionally sides with the trucking industry.
Jim Hall, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board during the Clinton administration said:
“Unfortunately, it’s going to be an open season on safety in this coming Congress.”
Trucking industry lobbyists and shippers are also likely to push to relax the rules on the weight limit of trucks. There is a move within the industry to allow trucks more than 90,000 pounds and increase the overall length of individual trailers in double-trailer combinations up from 28 feet to 33 feet, according to safety advocates.
Under existing federal hours of service regulations, truckers are required to take a 35-hour break at the end of their work week. The trucking industry fought requirements that those 35 hours include two periods from 1 a.m. until 5 a.m.
The move followed the advice of sleep specialists who said rest during the early morning is critical if sleepers are to feel refreshed. Following the failure of the rule to stick, truckers can head back into the road during those times if the 35-hour break has elapsed.
Lawmakers also suspended a regulation that stops truckers from working 75 hours, followed by a 35-hour break, and then start driving again in the same week.
The Associated Press quoted Bill Varnado, a trucker from Dallas in Georgia who drives for Pro Trucking Inc. of Acworth. He warned drivers sometimes keep on driving because they can’t find places to sleep on the road. He said:
“Sometimes you’re forced to drive fatigued because you can’t find anywhere to park.”
In 2014, a Wal-Mart truck driver from Georgia who had been awake for hours caused a wreck in New Jersey that left comedian Tracey Morgan with a brain injury. The defeat of this new rule for tired truck drivers is alarming.
If you have been hurt in a truck or car wreck on the highways of Georgia, call the Law Office of Michael West at (404) 913-1529