An effort to suspend two restrictions on the voluntary 34-hour restart provision got another ally this week when the Fraternal Order of Police wrote a letter to lawmakers in support of the suspension.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill that would suspend the requirement of two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. overnights during the restart and would allow more than one restart in a seven-day period. The amendment passed and was rolled into the appropriations bill on a vote of 21-9 in early June.
The suspension would remain in place while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducts a comprehensive study – with input from the Office of Inspector General – to see if these changes are truly justified.
During debate over the appropriations bill, Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., joined a conference call by safety groups to say they will offer an amendment to strip the Collins amendment from the THUD bill.
Negotiations over how amendments to the bill would be voted on by the full Senate brought deliberations over the entire bill to a halt.
That hasn’t kept various groups from continuing to lobby either for the Collins amendment or the Booker amendment.
OOIDA weighed in support of the Collins amendment, encouraging members to support its full passage.
“We thank Senator Collins and the supportive members of the committee for their work on this important amendment,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “Truckers have long pointed out the negative impacts of the 2013 changes on their ability to get rest, stay out of busy city traffic, spend time at home, and make a family-supporting income.”
Members are encouraged to contact their lawmakers either directly by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or via www.fightingfortruckers.com.
This week, in a move that could surprise some, the Fraternal Order of Police sent a letter to the leadership of both the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies in support of Collins amendment.
“In our view, this only makes sense from a public safety perspective,” Chuck Canterbury, national president of the FOP, wrote in the letter. “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration did not adequately research the public highway safety implications of the new HOS regulations.”
Canterbury pointed out that the two overnight provisions push “heavy trucks into the peak hours of roadways use, interfering with everyday commuters, children going to school and morning traffic volumes.”
The letter also bring up recent testimony given by the FMCSA administrator that the agency did not consider the impact this new congestion would have on public safety or existing congestion issues.
“Without this information, we believe it is irresponsible and potentially unsafe to implement the new HOS regulations,” he wrote.
Many in opposition to removing the two overnight periods and the restriction of use to once every seven days have pointed to a recent crash on the New Jersey turnpike to bolster their case. A tractor-trailer struck a limousine van carrying comedian Tracy Morgan and others. One man died, three others were injured including Morgan.
“There have been attempts to link the recent crash in New Jersey involving a famous television personality with the new HOS regulations,” Canterbury wrote. “Nothing in current or pending regulations contributed to this tragic event, as the alleged actions of the driver were unlawful under both regulatory schemes.”
Consideration of the full appropriations bill, and Booker’s intended amendment to block the suspensions, is on hold for the time being. No word on the Senate intends on taking debate back up.
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