Local reaction to proposed trucking regulation changes - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Local reaction to proposed trucking regulation changes

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A New Jersey crash that killed one man and critically injured actor/comedian Tracy Morgan and two others is sparking more debate about the trucking industry. Right now a provision added to the transportation spending bill in the Senate would change what's known as the "34 hour restart." The trucking industry supports the bill, others argue it will make our roads more dangerous. 

According to the Associated Press the proposed change would effectively let drivers put in as many as 82 hours a week behind the wheel. The current limit is 60 or 70 hours a week depending on the kind of company the driver works for. But the trucking company leaders we spoke with say that is simply not true.

Dean Kaplan and his wife run K-Limited Carrier, a Toledo trucking company that specializes in hauling hazardous materials. Dean is also the Chairman of The Board of the National Tank Truck Carriers Association, "Safety starts at the top. It is a culture. You teach that culture in everything you do. Our K-Limited drivers went 7 million miles in 2013 and our accident ratio was .0614 per million miles. That is pretty low."

A provision in the US Senate would roll back regulations governing driver hours that were put in place last summer.  Keith Tuttle is the founder of Motor Carrier Service, a regional trucking company with about 100 drivers, "Safety is the number one priority at our company each and every day." Before the regulations were enacted last year, long haul truckers could start each work week after 34 hours off duty. After the regulations, drivers could still start a new work week after 34 hours off but they can no longer do that every week. So the rules now in place, essentially force truckers to take a longer weekend every other week. The regulations also require that the 34 hour rest period include two nights in which drivers have to sleep between 1 and 5 in the morning  The provision would put the regulations back the way they were. Tuttle believes that will create safer roads for everyone,"Our industry was the safest it had been in history before the rule changed. What the current regulation does is put more trucks in heavy rush hour traffic and we think that's more of a safety hazard than a safety measure."

Some say the provision would mean truckers could be behind the wheel 82 hours instead of 60 or 70. Kaplan says that is not the case,"The 60/70 hour rule is not up for debate. We do not want to change that. It is not true that we are proposing to take drivers up to 82 hours a week."

Tuttle says according to the American Trucking Association the average over the road driver spends about 50 hours a week behind the wheel. The change to the transportation spending bill was added by a Senate committee last week, before the accident involving Tracy Morgan. As of right now, the spending bill is not scheduled for a vote but Kaplan says that could happen as early as August.

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