US truck crash sparks backlash against changes to fatigue regs

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Fatal truck accident in the United States prompts concern about proposed changes to country’s fatigue management laws

US truck crash sparks backlash against changes to fatigue regs
Comedian Tracy Morgan suffered serious injuries when a truck rear-ended the car he was travelling in.

 

A truck accident in the United States that killed one and critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan has sparked a backlash against proposed changes to the country’s fatigue management regulations.

A Walmart truck ran into the back of a car on June 7, killing James McNair and injuring Morgan. 

The truck driver allegedly had not slept in 24 hours, and the crash occurred days after a US Senate committee approved an amendment to relax regulations on driver rest requirements. 

The amendment, which has not yet passed into law, aims to suspend for one year a requirement for drivers who work 70 hours in a week to take a 34-hour break that includes two consecutive nights, the Portland Press Herald reports.

Road safety advocates are pushing for congress to reject the amendment, Bloomberg says.

Collins herself has come under criticism for seeking an amendment to fatigue regulations, but, as the Huffington Post reports, a spokesman for the senator says the amendment may improve road safety.  

Following the crash, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Joan Claybrook accused the trucking industry of trying to water down regulations to improve safety. 

"This is a major moment really to stop the trucking industry," she told media in a conference call.

"It seems no matter what we do in terms of pushing to get safer trucks on highways, the trucking industry uses its clout to either undo those improvements that we do get or stops any that we’re trying to push."

Industry group the American Trucking Associations is backing Collins’ amendment and believes the existing regulations governing driver rest requirements are a safety risk. 

"Good public policy and good regulations stem from good research and good data. This is why we support a suspension of the controversial and unjustified restrictions on use of the hours-of-service restart provision, which alters driver sleep patterns and puts more trucks on the road during more risky daylight hours," ATA president and CEO Bill Graves says.

"It is also why we support mandatory use of electronic logging devices to track drivers’ compliance with the hours of service requirements.

"In addition, it is why we support more aggressive enforcement of traffic laws to combat distracted and aggressive driving as well as restricting t

he speeds of large trucks to 65 mph with mandatory electronic speed governors."  The truck driver involved in the crash, Kevin Roper, faced court yesterday on assault and death by auto charges.

He pleaded not guilty, the Miami Herald reports.    

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