The trucking industry gave large sums of money in the form of campaign contributions in the last federal election cycle, and now they are reaping the benefits.
The Bush Administration has taken steps to weaken the rules of the road as promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). As a result, trucking company profits will increase, and motorists on the nation’s highways will be in greater danger.
Truck drivers will be worn out because of long hours on the road. Driver fatigue is a major cause of highway crashes involving 18-Wheelers.
More than 100 people die and more than 2,000 are injured every week in crashes involving heavy trucks. Because it is documented that a major cause of these crashes is driver fatigue, you would think that Congress would do something about it. Well, they did, by directing the FMCSA, the federal agency that regulates trucking, to make safety the number-one priority.
Congress mandated a revision of the rules to decrease crashes caused by fatigue. In 2003, the agency – under direction from the Bush White House – issued the new rules.
You may be shocked to learn that the rules actually increased the length of time a trucking company could make its drivers stay behind the wheel. The limit was raised from 60 hours per week to 77 hours per week – an increase of 11 hours.
A federal appeals court, in a lawsuit filed by Public Citizen, struck down the rule. But in 2005, as the result of lobbying efforts by the trucking industry, FMCSA did a complete turnaround. It said that seven consecutive 11-hour days on the road was the rule.
The change was again challenged in court and the rule was overturned again. The federal government should protect motorists on the highways, across the country. When 5,000 lives are lost annually on our highways that’s a heavy price to pay.
The Bush Administration should have to account for why it has put corporate profits over highway safety. If you want more information on this subject, go to www.citizen.org.