Starting this month, the federal government is forcing big-rig drivers to take more breaks while making their hauls. But the trucking industry is fighting the feds, and drivers in Tennessee say the rules are coming at a cost to them.
Truck driver Ken Brewer says, for him, safety always comes first. His family is currently riding with him for a work trip across the country hauling freight.
This time, they'll all be forced to take some breaks.
"I think it's more rules we don't need," Brewer said.
The Department of Transportation launched a new program last week that includes a new set of road rules aimed at keeping tired truckers from driving.
"That, in turn, turns into crashes, fatalities and injuries," said Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Allen England, with the Commercial Vehicle Administration.
The rules went into effect July 1, and the THP now checks drivers' logs at inspection stations and during traffic stops to make sure they've rested.
The new regulations force them to make a pit-stop.
"They can't exceed the eighth hour without having a 30-minute break," England said.
Brewer said that rule will cost him.
Truckers typically work a 14-hour day, with 11 hours of drive time and three hours for loading and unloading.
"Now they've shortened our day to 13 1/2 hours, so that adds up," he said.
In another major change, truck drivers will only be able to spend at most 70 hours on the road per week.
Before, some could work up to 82.
Brewer likes that part of the law.
"It makes sure the driver gets two nights of decent sleep," Brewer said.
The Federal Safety Administration believes the new rules will prevent 1,400 traffic crashes in the U.S. every year
According to the FSA analysis, they will also prevent 560 injuries and save 19 lives. But like many other truckers, Brewer argues more laws won't stop bad drivers from ignoring them.
The trucking industry says it has already regulated itself to lower traffic crashes since the year 2000 and is filing suit against the feds to reverse the changes.
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