In the first week of December, Republican legislators blocked safety rules intended to help keep sleepy truck drivers off of highways in North Carolina and across the U.S. Reports indicate that the American Trucking Associations is now planning to prevent the passage of state laws that would require truckers to take more breaks than federal regulations. The group wants a uniform nationwide rule for interstate work hours.
The recent rule block occurred after Republican lawmakers added a provision into the must-pass spending bill. The provision suspended Obama administration regulations that would require truckers to take two nights of rest after working up to 75 hours in a week. It also suspended a rule that prevents truckers from working 75 hours, taking a 35-hour break and getting back on the road within the same week.
The regulations required truckers to take a break for at least 35 hours when their work week ends as well. The 35 hours were to include two periods of rest between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., to which the trucking industry objected. However, the rule was in place because scientists report that rest in the early morning is vital to make the body feel refreshed. Now that the rule is blocked, truckers can get on the road during the 1-to-5-a.m. period if they have already taken their 35-hour rest break.
Safety advocates are concerned with the blockage. They fear that it could be the beginning of a cutback in transport safety regulations after a Republican president is sworn into office. They also fear that shippers and other industry heads may push to increase trailer length and weight limits.
Due to the sheer size and weight of commercial vehicles, truck drivers are expected to stress safety on the highways. When truckers or trucking companies violate safety regulations, they could be held responsible for the damages that result from traffic accidents. This might include paying for property damage as well as medical bills of injured victims.