S. Izer: Fatigue is well-known killer

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Brian Parke’s claim (letter, Dec. 26) that the safety improvements in the hours of service rule force more trucks onto the road during rush hours is an unfounded scare tactic.

The rule doesn’t require drivers to “hit the road” at 5 a.m. Only a portion of drivers, those on the most aggressive schedules, are affected by the restriction, and they don’t all report for duty at the same time. Moreover, those drivers are spread out across the entire country. Any impact on morning rush hour in any particular area is statistically insignificant.

Fatigue is a well-known killer. Safety advocates’ opposition to Sen. Susan Collins’ rollback of the hours of service rule is based on scientific evidence that supports the current limit, the decade-long process that ensured the veracity of the HOS rule, and the thorough comment period that resulted in more than 20,000 stakeholder comments on that rule.

Given the evidence, it is Collins and her trucking industry cohorts who pander to emotion and fear.

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Much of the decline in truck-involved crashes during the prior HOS rule resulted from the economic downturn and recession, when freight shipments and commercial vehicle miles of travel went down, reducing on-road exposure in traffic. However, since the recession has ended in the past three years, truck-involved fatalities have increased by 16 percent and injuries by 40 percent.

With the stakes so high, we should all work together to improve safety. Unfortunately, Sen. Collins’ effort to increase truck drivers’ work week to 82 hours will increase fatigue, crashes, deaths and injuries.

Steve Izer, Lisbon

Editor’s note: Steve Izer is retired after 13 years as a member of the Motor Carrier Review Board.

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