Washington—In light of the recent fatal truck accident in New Jersey, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) expressed condolences for the victims and called on Congress to address the need for regulations on truck driver fatigue.
Last week, during consideration of the Transportation-HUD appropriations bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to suspend for a year the newest provisions of the “restart rule,” one of the existing federal rules to protect drivers from truck driver fatigue. The “restart rule” guarantees commercial truck drivers the opportunity to rest for two consecutive nights after working 60 hours or more in a week.
As a member of the committee, Senator Feinstein voted against the suspension of this regulation.
Studies have shown that a driver who begins a work week after two consecutive nights of sleep is less fatigued and more attentive during that week. In 2013, the Department the Transportation estimated that the newest provisions, including the “restart rule,” would prevent an estimated 1,400 crashes per year and save an average of 19 lives every year.
Feinstein released the following statement:
“I was truly saddened to learn of the fatal truck accident in New Jersey that killed James McNair and critically injured several others, including comedian Tracy Morgan. My heart goes out to their families and friends during this difficult time.
“New Jersey prosecutors say the truck driver who caused the crash had been awake for more than 24 hours prior to the accident. This highlights why I am committed to combatting truck driver fatigue.
"I am deeply disappointed by last week’s vote on the Appropriations Committee to suspend the ‘restart rule.’
“I strongly opposed the suspension of these regulations in committee and intend to continue this fight when the bill comes to the Senate floor for a vote.
“These are commonsense, science-based rules to prevent fatigue. These provisions have been extensively studied, debated and litigated, and Congress should not interfere and risk endangering more motorists and truck drivers.”