Wiser heads have prevailed in Washington regarding a lax trucking safety regulation the Bush administration repeatedly pushed on behalf of the industry. The Obama Administration has agreed to reconsider the rule, which safety advocates said could have led to greater driver fatigue and more accidents.
The rule, finalized in the waning days of the Bush White House, would have allowed long-haul truckers to drive up to 11 hours straight. For 60 years before this, the maximum amount truckers were allowed to drive at a stretch was 10 hours.
Also included was a reduction in off-duty time for drivers. Previous regulations gave truckers 50 or more hours of rest and recovery time at the end of a work week, but the Bush revision cut that to as little as 34 hours.
A federal appeals court struck down the Bush rule twice, saying the government did not adequately explain its reasoning for the extra hour on the road. But the Bush administration reinstated it each time.
A coalition of highway-safety defenders and the Teamsters union sued to get the rule thrown out. Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa, who warned that longer hours behind the wheel are dangerous for drivers and the public, promised to push for a rule that protects truckers “instead of the greed of the trucking industry.”
Finally, it appears, the concerns of safety and labor groups have been taken seriously. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pledged to revise the rule, with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declaring that “we believe that starting over and developing a rule that can help save lives is the smart thing to do.”
Protecting truck drivers and the public from unsafe driving conditions is so much wiser than bending to special interests.