WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) was joined by Senate colleagues John D. Rockefeller (D-W.VA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in introducing an amendment to a Senate Appropriations bill that would protect safety rules governing rest periods and hours of service truck drivers may work each week. Specifically, the amendment would prevent a dangerous increase in the number of hours drivers may operate each week and would ensure drivers get much-needed rest time.
“Truck accidents are on the rise and driver fatigue is a leading cause,” said Sen. Booker. “Truck drivers are working extremely long days to deliver the goods we depend on, but it should never be at the cost of their safety and that of other drivers. My amendment upholds common-sense rules based on years of study and scientific evidence. It calls for the preservation of basic protections that allow these drivers to get sufficient rest to do their job safely and efficiently. I am grateful to my Senate colleagues who support this amendment and look forward to working together to make our nation’s highways safer.”
“The trucking industry is plain wrong on this issue. Forcing tired drivers to get behind the wheel of 80,000 pound trucks puts everyone at risk, and that’s a fact. With truck crashes on the rise – resulting in nearly 4,000 tragic and needless deaths every year – we need to focus our attention on strengthening rules that will improve safety on our highways. I hope the trucking industry will finally realize it’s time to stop fighting common sense safety regulations and work with DOT on reducing the number of crashes. That’s the best way for us to move forward and, ultimately, prevent further heartbreaking losses from occurring,” said Senator John D. Rockefeller.
“Regulations to prevent truck driver fatigue are essential if we are to reduce the number of devastating truck-caused accidents in this country,” said Senator Feinstein. “These regulations are based in science and are backed by the courts. The Senate should pass this amendment because the provisions will ultimately save lives.”
“Sadly, some in the trucking industry are putting the safety of all Americans, including its own truckers, at risk by undercutting federal rules and regulations that would curb driver fatigue,” said Senator Blumenthal. “As chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, I support this amendment, which would ensure drivers are given adequate time to rest and aren’t allowed to work a dangerous number of hours. Trucking accidents due to driver fatigue happen all too often on American highways, and this amendment would help to decrease these preventable accidents.”
“We should be looking to strengthen these protections, not undermine them,” said Senator Menendez. “We wouldn’t consider rolling back FDA food safety regulations during an E-Coli outbreak. We wouldn’t consider dropping EPA protections in the wake of contamination that poisons the water supply. For the same reason, now is not the time to relax truck safety measures that save lives when people continue to die on our highways.”
“Federal Hours of Service rules for truck drivers simply cannot be rolled back; these critical protections help guard both truckers and others on the road from the tragic consequences of fatigued driving. It defies logic that some would look to repeal these common-sense rules that ensure truckers have proper rest and are not overworked, and I’m pleased to be part of this effort, led by Senator Booker, to keep our roads safe,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer.
On July 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation implemented important hours-of-service safety rules based on extensive scientific research and 18 months of stakeholder input in order to reduce fatigue among truck drivers. The Booker Amendment seeks to uphold these rules, which simply ensure that drivers are not forced to work over 80 hours per week and have the opportunity to get two nights’ sleep during their limited time off.
The number of fatalities caused by truck accidents has risen by 16 percent since 2009 and the number of people injured in these crashes has increased by 40 percent. Every year on average, over 4,000 people are killed and nearly 100,000 are injured in large truck crashes.