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There are no net health and safety benefits to a contentious rule that would limit the number of hours truck drivers could work without a break, according to an audit from the Department of Transportation office of inspector general.
In a letter to the top ranking members of the House and Senate appropriations committees, the OIG said that it concurred with an earlier DOT report that failed to identify a net benefit to a suspended rule that would limit truck drivers to a 70-hour maximum workweek that could be restarted only after a 34-hour rest period. Provisions in the rule specified that drivers must include at least two nighttime rest periods in their break and only “restart” once every 168 hours.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a sub-agency of the DOT, enacted the rule in 2013, but it was soon suspended after members of Congress raised concerns that the rule could have unintended consequences such as increasing traffic congestion during daylight hours.
The American Trucking Associations lobbied lawmakers to abandon the changes, saying the mandate was based on flawed data.
“We knew from the beginning that these Obama administration restrictions provided no benefit to safety, and in light of the DOT’s findings—corroborated by the DOT Inspector General—it is good for our industry and for the motoring public that they will be done away with permanently as specified by language ATA led the charge on including in the most recently passed continuing resolution,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said in a statement.
Democrats on congressional transportation committees and safety advocacy groups, however, have warned that not requiring truck drivers to get adequate rest before operating vehicles threatens highway safety.
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