Truck rollback might increase
The trucking industry scored a victory this week when Republican lawmakers effectively blocked Obama administration safety rules aimed at keeping tired truckers off the highway. But there’s more coming down the road.
The American Trucking Associations is pledging to come back next month, when Republicans will control the White House and Congress, and try to block state laws that require additional rest breaks for truckers beyond what federal rules require. The group says there should be one uniform national rule on work hours for interstate truckers and that the extra breaks aren’t necessary for safety.
The trucking industry’s latest triumph has caused concern among safety advocates that it may signal the start of a broad rollback of transportation safety regulations once there’s no longer a Democratic president to check the tendency of Republican lawmakers to side with industry.
“Unfortunately, it’s going to be an open season on safety in this coming Congress,” said Jim Hall, a former National Transportation Safety Board chairman. Shippers and some segments of the trucking industry probably will also push for long-sought goals of increasing the weight limit on trucks to more than 90,000 pounds and increasing the length of individual trailers in doubletrailer combinations from 28 feet to 33 feet, safety advocates said.
Congress is also likely to be asked to deal with a wide range of other transportation safety concerns. The auto and technology industries fear a patchwork of state safety laws will hinder the deployment of self-driving cars.