Truck Safety Advocates Challenge New Driver Fatigue Rule

Groups advocating for highway and truck safety filed a lawsuit last week challenging a new federal rule that allegedly falls short in protecting the public from sleep-deprived truck drivers, according to court documents.

The suit was filed by Highway and Auto Safety, Public Citizen, the Truck Safety Coalition and two truck drivers, who are seeking a judicial review of a new rule issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Attorneys for the advocacy groups said the final hours of service rule fails to reduce the limit on consecutive hours a truck driver can operate a large truck from 11 hours to 10 hours, despite the NHTSA's comment that doing so would be effective to reduce driver fatigue.

The rule also fails to amend the 34-hour restart provision, which requires only 34 hours of off-duty time for drivers after 70 hours of driving - reduced from 48 or more hours in 2004.

According to surveys conducted by the NHTSA, 65 percent of drivers admitted to driving while tired and 48 percent said that they had fallen asleep behind the wheel within the previous year.