80 percent of public oppose overturning current hours rule, trucking questions study

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AHAS-poll

Safety groups and the Teamsters are pushing a new study that shows 80 percent of the American public wants Congress to leave the 2013 hours-of-service rule in place and to abandon efforts to suspend the rule.

Trucking groups, however, say the results of the study are “misleading” and “harmful.”

The survey, conducted by Lake Research Partners, posed the question as “raising the number of hours a semi-truck driver is allowed to work in a week from 70 to 82…more than twice the normal work week for most people.”

“This survey reveals a clear disconnect between what the public wants and what special trucking interests want from Congress at the expense of public safety for everyone,” Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety President Jackie Gillan said in conference call. “We urge Congress to reject this anti-safety change and heed the public’s correct assessment of the dangers.”

AHAS, the pollsters and some Congressmen are using the study to say that Americans overwhelmingly reject efforts by some Senators to suspend provisions of the 2013 HOS rule.

“This poll shows irrefutably where American public is on this issue of driving hours and driving safety. The American public gets it,” Blumenthal said. “I’d kind of like to meet some of that 17 percent who doesn’t get it.”

And Joan Claybrook, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, referred to trucks as “sweatshops on wheels,” and said the trucking industry promotes “economic interests at the expense of public safety interests.”

Trucking groups, however, refute the poll’s findings.

“We don’t interpret the findings of the survey to be anything helpful in improving highway safety,” says Owner-Operator and Independent Drivers Association spokesperson Norita Taylor. “Continuing to perpetuate a myth about an 82 hour work week is actually harmful.”

Likewise, the American Trucking Associations says the poll’s misleading nature should not be used to craft public policy. Instead, says ATA President and CEO Bill Graves, “good data and research should be” used.

“Unfortunately, FMCSA did not have such information — such as the impact the rules would have on increased daytime truck traffic and the corresponding elevated crash risk – when they drafted them,” Graves said. “Sen. Collins’ proposal would simply suspend these new rules so the agency can evaluate the true risks and the net impact on highway safety. We doubt any poll respondent would support these new restrictions that discourage drivers from taking lengthy rest periods, and that increase daytime truck traffic and raise crash risk.”

OOIDA suggests that a “more relevant and objective question” would have been to ask if highway users preferred having trucks on the roads overnight or during morning rush hour traffic.

Overdrive sister site CCJ has more on the poll and the controversy surrounding it. Click here to read the story.

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