A new poll released today shows lawmakers pushing for longer trucker hours what the Teamsters and others backing safer highways have known all along – the public doesn’t want it and feels it will jeopardize their safety.
The survey conducted by Lake Research Partners found 80 percent of Americans oppose a push in Congress to raise the number of hours a semi-truck driver is allowed to work in a week from 70 to 82 hours. And the same amount of those polled said that if the law is changed to allow longer hours for truck drivers, they will feel less safe on the nation’s roads.
“We have to make sure we protect our drivers and highway safety,” Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa told reporters during a media call this afternoon. “This is not something that should happen. We don’t need any more accidents. The highways are dangerous. We don’t need anything that pushes our drivers to work 82 hours.”
Yet that is exactly what Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and some others in the Senate are doing. Sen. Collins introduced a rider to the Senate’s transportation spending bill earlier this year that would substantially increase trucker driver hours of service if enacted.
Thankfully, not everyone in the chamber is taking the proposed change lying down. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) are pushing an amendment that would strike the increase in hours of service. It will be taken up when the transportation spending bill comes to the Senate floor as early as next month.
Sen. Blumenthal said the rules in place need to be saved and thanked the Teamsters and drivers for their support. “The guys at the wheel have a special perspective here, and no one speaks more passionately than those who drive,” he said. “We need safe and reliable drivers, and that’s what we have on the road except when they are asked to drive additional hours.”
Highway safety advocates noted the strong public opposition to the extended trucker driver hours and stated that opposition crosses not only gender, age and race and ethnic lines, but those of political affiliation as well. That, they said, should be enough to show elected officials not to support the measure.
The highways have proven to be a dangerous place where accidents caused by truckers forced to work long hours by their employers are all too commonplace. Congress shouldn’t make it any worse.