Federal agencies Trucking

Truck safety takes Senate spotlight

Washington – In response to several high-profile truck crashes and an increase in crash-related fatalities, a Senate subcommittee is attempting to improve truck safety.

A panel that included transportation officials, safety advocates and a long-haul truck driver provided testimony during a two-hour hearing July 29 before the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee. The session covered a wide range of topics, including hours-of-service regulations, wages and truck sizes.

The panel spoke in favor of maintaining a provision that requires truck drivers who are at their weekly driving hours limit to “reset” their hours by taking a break of at least 34 hours, including two stints between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) in June introduced an amendment to suspend the restart provision while more research is done, but the amendment was pulled from the Senate floor after disagreement among lawmakers.

American Trucking Associations lobbyist Dave Osiecki said driver error, not fatigue, causes most crashes involving trucks. He told the subcommittee that enforcement efforts should be directed at unsafe drivers rather than roadside inspections.