Minnesota residents should be interested to know that the current spending bill that is tied up in Congress contains a provision that, if enacted, will rollback a regulation that can have adverse effects on truck safety on Minnesota roads. The regulation in question addressed the number of hours that truck drivers that conduct long-haul type driving could spend behind a wheel of a big rig. The issue was initially addressed last year when a regulation was passed that forced truck drivers to have to take two nights off back-to-back for every 70 hours that they spent driving.
The trucking industry did not like the new regulation and protested it. They claimed, though the regulation was well meaning, it inadvertently may have a negative consequence. They contended that it would force more truckers to travel early in the day. Finally, they would also have to share the road at a time when workday commuters and children laden school buses are also on the road.
The intent of the legislation was to stem unnecessary and preventable night time crashes that are caused by truck driver fatigue. But, the industry argued that it may instead raise the chances for daytime crashes as more trucks will be on the road during peak driving hours, thereby putting lives in danger.
However, the Department of Transportation has not yet compiled any accident data covering the past year, since the regulation has been enacted. Truck driver fatigue was cited as a major cause of accident. In 2012 alone, such crashes killed over 3,500 people.
If the new regulatory rollback goes into effect as it is written, truck drivers will now be allowed to drive up to 82 hours a week. This is an increase from the current 70 hours, but it is important to note that the provision will only be in effect till next October.
Source: MPR News, "U.S. spending bill rolls back trucker rest requirements," Brian Naylor, Dec. 13, 2014