PORTLAND — Federal driving rules that take effect Sunday allow truckers to sleep more, but may keep them on the road more as well.

The new rules require professional truck drivers to take at least 10 hours off in between drives. The old rule only required 8 hours of down time.

But the rules also allow truckers to stay on the road for as long as 11 straight hours. That’s an hour more than before.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates the change will reduce deaths associated with truck driver fatigue from 440 to 335 a year.

A Maine trucking lobbying group said the rules represent a first step to improve safety.

But Daphne Izer of Lisbon, co-chairwoman of Parents Against Tired Truckers, said the new rules don’t help at all. Izer and her husband, Stephen, founded the safety group 10 years ago after their son Jeff and three other teenagers were killed when a truck slammed into their car in the breakdown lane of the turnpike in Falmouth in 1993.


The trucker, who said he did not doze at the wheel, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of falsifying his logbook.

PATT now has an office in Washington, D.C. It is among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit by the consumer group Public Citizen against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Public Citizen sued this year to overturn the new regulations before they were put in effect. The case is pending in federal court.

The new rules “abandon virtually every principle that FMCSA has proclaimed necessary for new hours-of-service rules,” Daphne Izer said.

Critics said the biggest problem with the regulations is that they don’t require electronic on-board recorders – black boxes for trucks – that would automatically monitor the truck’s movement.

AP-ES-01-03-04 1221EST

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