The American Trucking Associations is taking its battle against proposed changes to truck driver work hours to the federal Office of Management and Budget, which is reviewing the Department of Transportation’s latest hours of service rule.
In a letter to Cass Sunstein, administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, ATA President Bill Graves questioned whether “any legitimate reason” exists to change the current hours of service rules for truck drivers.
In a proposed rule released last December, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration suggested cutting the daily driving limit from 11 to 10 hours and changing the 34-hour restart provision. Details of the final rule have not been made public.
The proposed changes were meant to reduce fatalities and injuries in crashes related to truck driver fatigue. But ATA says FMCSA’s latest data shows truck safety already is improving dramatically under current driver hours of service regulations.
Graves pointed to truck safety data recently released by the FMCSA that ATA says show truck safety improving under the current 11-hour hours of service rule. “This data, in terms of both numbers and rates, is overwhelmingly positive,” Graves said of the 2009 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report on FMCSA’s Web site.
The report, released in October, said the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes decreased 21 percent in 2009 from 2008, the largest annual decline since records have been kept, according to the FMCSA. Fatal truck crashes declined 31 percent from 2007 through 2009, the agency said in its report.
Over that two-year period, fewer fatal highway accidents involved large trucks, as the vehicle involvement rate for large trucks in fatal crashes dropped 27 percent. Injury crashes involving large trucks fell 30 percent to 53,000, the FMCSA said.
The report “further demonstrates FMCSA has no evidence of a safety problem with the current rules,” Graves said in his Nov. 15 letter to OIRA’s Sunstein. The association is expected to sue to block the new rules if they include the FMCSA’s proposals.