Trucking Accident Involving Tracy Morgan Highlights Regulation Debate
The news that comedian Tracy Morgan had been critically injured in an accident involving a Walmart truck quickly spread throughout the media this week. That accident, which took the life of comedian James McNair and two others, is being used by safety regulators to bolster their argument against a proposed trucking bill.
About the Proposed Regulation Change
The proposed change to current trucking regulations would make it so truckers can drive a maximum of 82 hours each week. Currently, truckers may only drive 60 or 70 hours per week depending on their employers’ schedule. The proposal, which was added to a transportation spending bill last week by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), would rollback a trucking provision created just last summer.
Last summer, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations were written so that truckers could only start a work week after 34 hours off duty once every other week. The provision also required drivers to include in that time off two rest periods between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
The change proposed by Collins, and backed by the trucking industry, would remove the nighttime rest period provisions and allow truckers to use the 34 hour restart every week.
Truck Safety Debate
The truck driver responsible for the crash involving Morgan was reported as not having slept for more than 24 hours when the accident happened. Research has shown that sleep deprived drivers can be compared to those under the influence of alcohol. Adding in the often fatal nature of accidents involving large trucks, safety advocates say it is important for regulations that force drivers to rest.
The trucking industry, however, claims that current regulations increase the number of large trucks on the roads during morning commutes. Those officials claim it is “safer for truckers to drive at night when there is less traffic.”