Limits on truck drivers lacking
To the editor:
Over the last month, I’ve read many articles about an amendment included in the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. This amendment rolls back the current restart provision in the truck drivers’ hours of service rule. It suspends the current safety limits on the 34-hour rest period, and will dramatically increase the allowable driving and work hours of truck drivers from the current average of about 70 hours a week to more than 80 hours a week. This is equivalent to adding an additional work day to the already long work week of a truck driver.
The issue of truck driver fatigue is a recognized major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes, which is why this amendment is so dangerous. I unfortunately know all too well about the devastating effects a fatal truck crash can have on a family.
I’ve been on a hellish journey since January 20, 2011, when my daughter, Alisha, died after her car was struck by a tractor-trailer truck. Months after my daughter’s death I was told by the local police department that their investigation indicated this collision was caused by my daughter. After reviewing the police report, I was unsatisfied with what they found and decided to hire crash reconstruction experts to conduct another investigation. Through this investigation, I learned a much different story. The truck driver had been speeding, was using his cell phone at the time of the crash, and ran the red light. Additionally, the driver’s toxicology found that he was taking a narcotic drug called Suboxone. In fact, he has been on medication for years and neglected to disclose this on three of his Federal Department of Transportation medical examinations.
Despite all these violations, this man is still working as a truck driver and sharing the roads with our families. The thought of allowing him to work over 80 hours per week, and drive an 80,000 pound weapon is terrifying. How many other drivers are just like him?
I urge our members of Congress to please support efforts to strip this dangerous amendment from the THUD bill. From my own experience, there isn’t enough support and protection for the families sharing the roads with these big rigs. Congress should focus on remedying the current safety problems and not create new ones. Please protect our children.