Last month, President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) sent a letter to Cass Sustein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, asking whether federal regulators had a “legitimate reason” to tighten the current hours-of-service (HOS) rules. Mr. Graves noted that the latest safety statistics (2009) showed historically low levels of truck and bus crashes, meaning that the current HOS rules were working. ATA has been an adamant opponent of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed HOS rule changes, which will go in effect after the final rule is published in the National Register.
However, the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), comprised of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), issued a press release Friday saying that commercial-truck crash deaths soared from 3,380 in 2009 to 4000 in 2010. The TSC cited the November 30 testimony of FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing about the pending HOS rule changes. That hearing was the first time 2010 commercial truck crash statistics had been cited.
According to the TSC, “This critical data supports the position of safety groups, families of truck crash victims, and labor who have been urging the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Obama Administration to issue a safer truck driver HOS rule to reduce driver fatigue.”
TSC says that ATA pushes to keep the current HOS rules in place, using 2009’s record decline in commercial truck crashes as evidence that the current rules are working to prevent driver fatigue and crashes. But 2010’s statistics prove “that the claim is patently false,” the TSC said in a statement.
Nine other safety organizations joined the TSC in sending a letter to Mr. Sustein, countering the claims the ATA president made in his Nov. 15 letter. Citing the FMCSA’s 2010 numbers and a number of other studies, TSC said that the current HOS rules have “done nothing to reduce the relative occurrence of fatigue in truck crash involvement.” The ATA has its logic completely backwards, the letter stated.