Earlier this month, an aviation bill passed through the House of Representatives with a provision in the fine print that prevents states from mandating commercial truck driving companies to schedule longer rest breaks for truck drivers than the minimum standards under federal law.
Currently, 22 states require even more generous or more frequent rest breaks for truck drivers than is required under the Federal Motor Carrier Administration. Under this administration, truck drivers are required a minimum of a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a driving shift. Additionally, truck drivers are only allowed 70-hour work weeks and can only return to work if they rest for 34 hours afterwards. Finally, drivers are only allowed to drive for 11 hours per day.
Aviation Bill Provisions Would Put Other Drivers at Risk
Early last year, the truck driving industry challenged the federal standard and lost. The industry tried again in December and failed to change the federal rest stop standards again when the clause was taken out of an important transportation bill. However, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee brought the revision back while overhauling the Federal Aviation Administration.
Most safety groups disagree with the provision because of the worry that truck driving companies will take advantage of the provision and put (more) pressure on drivers to continue driving in spite of fatigue. As is, federal law does allow truck drivers to take breaks when they feel overwhelmed by fatigue. However, the trucking industry has always objected to this standard because planning for rest breaks state-by-state disrupts route planning and naturally delays delivery times.
Moreover, the provision hidden in the bill changes how truck drivers will be paid. If the bill passes with the truck driving provisions, it would not allow the drivers to be compensated for safety procedures, such as inspections.
Truck Drivers Need Longer Rest Times to Safely Operate Their Vehicles
The provisions that were haphazardly thrown into this bill do not support driver safety. Rather, they support the profit of truck driving companies. Currently, truck driving companies are not above pressuring drivers to continue when they are fatigued even with federal regulations. How truck companies would treat their drivers safety and subsequently the safety of others would be deplorable. The truck driving industry just wants to put truck drivers behind the wheel as long as possible and as much as possible, so long as the money keeps rolling in. This bill should not pass and federal truck driving regulations should continue to mandate the rest schedules of truck drivers.