The APWU is urging President Obama to veto an appropriations bill if it comes to his desk with a provision that would weaken truck safety regulations. As it is currently written, the appropriations bill for the Departments of Transportation (H.R. 2577) includes a section that would block implementation of DOT rules that limit the number of hours drivers can be on duty.
The provision “would jeopardize public safety in order to squeeze a few extra hours out of already overworked truck drivers,” President Mark Dimondstein and Motor Vehicle Service Director Michael O. Foster wrote in a letter dated June 17.
“In 2006, the DOT found that 65 percent of truck drivers reported symptoms of fatigue while driving. Truckers working too much and resting too little can have dire consequences,” the letter noted. “As evidenced by the National Transportation Safety Board, between 30 and 40 percent of heavy truck crashes may be attributable to sleep deprivation or driver fatigue.
“The APWU is committed to safety on the road, both for our members and for the nation as a whole,” the letter says. “Towards that goal, last year we successfully opposed the National Star Route Mail Contractors Association when the company sought an exemption to DOT’s ‘14-hour rule.’ Such an exemption would have dangerously allowed drivers working for the contractors to operate trucks after being on duty more than 14 hours following a break of less than 10 hours.”
A May 16 statement by the Office of Management and Budget warned of dangerous add-ons to the bill, including the provision on Hours of Service found in Section 131 of the bill, the letter pointed out. “Should this appropriations bill be presented to you with the truck driver ‘Hours of Service’ provision included, we strongly urge you to veto it,” the APWU wrote.
The letter concludes by noting that the APWU “stands ready to work with the administration to maintain and expand safety on our roads.”