WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has taken a step nearer to stress-free federal laws governing the period of time truck drivers can spend behind the wheel, profitable reward from the trucking trade and drawing scorn from freeway security advocates.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an company of the Transportation Department, issued proposed adjustments on Wednesday to the “hours of service” guidelines that dictate breaks truckers are required to take, and their time on and off obligation.
“It puts a little more power back in the hands of the drivers and motor carriers,” mentioned Raymond Martinez, head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Martinez mentioned the company listened to drivers and their name for safer and extra versatile guidelines.
But freeway security teams have warned that placing the revisions into place would dangerously weaken the laws.
The authorities “is offering flexibility without regard for the fact that these weakened rules could be exploited by the worst actors in the industry,” mentioned Harry Adler, govt director of the Truck Safety Coalition.
There have been 4,657 massive vehicles concerned in deadly crashes in 2017, a 10% improve from the yr earlier than, in line with a May report issued by the company.
Trade teams that represented truck drivers and motor carriers have pushed for years for much less inflexible hours of service guidelines, arguing that the laws have been too inflexible and out of step with the every day realties confronting most truck drivers. They discovered a supporter in President Donald Trump, who has made rolling again layers of regulatory oversight a precedence.
The current laws restrict long-haul truckers to 11 hours of driving time inside a 14-hour on-duty window. Drivers should have had 10 consecutive hours off obligation earlier than the on-duty clock begins anew. A driver who’s going to be driving for greater than eight hours should take a 30-minute off-duty break earlier than hitting the eight-hour mark.
Under the proposed revisions, truckers may take a break whereas they’re on obligation however not driving. Drivers have complained that lengthy waits for cargo to be loaded or unloaded preserve them idle but they’re nonetheless required to take an off-duty break, even when they do not have to relaxation or can not discover appropriate parking for a giant rig.
The administration is also proposing to permit drivers to “pause” the 14-hour driving window for an off-duty break of as much as three hours, supplied the trucker nonetheless takes the 10 consecutive hours off obligation on the finish of the work shift.
The highly effective American Trucking Associations, whose members embody the nation’s largest motor carriers and truck manufacturing corporations, mentioned in a press release that the revisions preserve the “core principles” of the laws.
A bunch representing impartial truck drivers hailed the “common-sense approach” that may make it simpler for truckers to keep away from heavy visitors, dangerous climate and different hostile conditions.
“Truckers have families and want to get home safely just like everyone else. They are the most knowledgeable, highway safety advocates and the agency’s proposal, overall, recognizes that fact,” mentioned Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
The proposal will likely be open for public remark earlier than being finalized.