Aug. 22, 2005 – The Bush administration on Friday approved national rules to allow trucking companies to demand drivers stay on the road for 11 hours a day. The decision came despite widespread opposition among drivers and in the face of data showing that lengthier hauls lead to more accidents.
Fridayâ€™s decision trumps a July court ruling and allows truck drivers to work 11 hours a day, up from the previous limit of 10 hours.
Responding to Fridayâ€™s announcement, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the nationâ€™s largest truck drivers union, said the new rules are virtually the same as the ones proposed a year ago, which the federal court struck down.
"What reasonable person who has traveled our nationâ€™s roads and highways thinks that forcing tired truck drivers to stay behind the wheel even longer is good public policy?" Teamsters President James Hoffa said.
The new rules go into effect in October.
In a statement announcing the new rules, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said the regulations improved upon rules announced in 2003. If enough rest time was taken, drivers could drive up to 11 hours per day in many instances under the old rules, said the agency, and the new rules prohibit drivers from working more than 14 hours in a single shift.
Short-haul truckers â€“ those who work within 150 miles of a given base â€“ will be allowed to work two 16-hour days in a row, something the Teamsters warn will undermine truckersâ€™ labor rights and could lead to roadway dangers.
In 2004, a federal court ruled that the 2003 regulatory change allowing truckers to stay on the road for 11 hours straight was "arbitrary and capricious," and endangered driversâ€™ and motoristsâ€™ health.