Thursday, January 21, 2010

U.S. truckers call for new safety regulations

The Teamsters Union has asked the U.S. government to reverse a regulation that increased the number of hours truckers can drive.

The regulation, which was issued in 2003, raised the number of hours truck drivers can spend behind the wheel from ten to eleven consecutive hours each shift, and from 60 to 77 hours of driving each week. The rule also cut off-duty rest and recovery time at the end of the work week from 50 or more hours off duty, to as little as 34 hours off duty.

“We must protect our truck drivers’ health and safety,” said Teamsters general president Jim Hoffa. “Study after study shows that more time behind the wheel is dangerous for truckers and for the driving public.”

The Teamsters said that the ruling was intended to increase driver productivity, and favoured increasing the profits of motor carriers over driver health and safety.

The union said that the percentage of fatal crashes that resulted from driver fatigue rose 20 per cent from 2004 to 2005, the first year in which the longer hours of driving were allowed.

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