A Federal Appeals Court has struck down a Bush administration regulation allowing truck drivers to spend more hours on the road per day and week, and to spend less time resting before the official “re-start” of their work week. According to Public Citizen, the non-profit public interest group, this is the second time the proposed rule has been struck down by a unanimous 3-judge panel (for a total of six different judges), and for the same reasons — because it fails to account for the added fatigue drivers would face under the expanded limits, and because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) gave no opportunity for notice or comment on the new rule, and inadequately explained the methodology of the research that was purported to justify a change in the previous standard. The new rule would have allowed truckers to operate for 77 hours in seven days or 88 hours in eight days — a 25% increase. On-duty hour regulations were also adjusted in a manner that would have allowed a driver working 14-hour shifts to work 84 hours in seven days or 98 hours in eight days, resulting in a 40% overall increase. According to Public Citizen, more than 5,000 people are killed in truck accidents each year, and more than 110,000 are injured, and truck driver fatigue is a major contributor to severe crashes. Research demonstrates that truck driver alertness and performance suffer after about eight consecutive hours of driving.
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