Saturday, August 20, 2005

Administration making America's Roads Less Safe!

This is what happens when a truck driver falls asleep on the job.

Truckers don't get enough sleep. And when they doze at the wheel they are a hazard to all drivers, their vehicles on the road and the families therein.

A 1997 New England Journal of Medicine article observed 80 truckers and found they got an average of less than five hours of sleep per night even when given eight uninterrupted hours of downtime after a day at the wheel.

The report showed:
More than half of the truckers in the study, who were videotaped as they drove, experienced at least one six-minute interval of drowsiness while driving. Truckers were most vulnerable to drowsiness late in the night or early in the morning, when the body naturally wants to shut down.
But that was when drivers were limited to 10 hours at the wheel. But now that rule has been relaxed by the Bush Administration! As announced yesterday, drivers may now spend 11 hours each day on the road!

This is a picture of Annette Sandberg.

Photo of Annette Sandberg

Annette Sandberg is the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for the Bush Administration. According to the report:
The rules, which take effect in October, allow 11 hours of driving in a single stretch, up from the 10-hour limit that had been in effect until 2003. The new regulations would allow truckers to drive up to 77 hours per week, up from 60.

The rules shorten the overall workday from 15 hours to 14 and require truckers with sleeper berths to take longer breaks by spending at least eight continuous hours in bed. The old rules allowed rest periods to be split up.

But at the same time, the rules largely deregulate short-haul truckers, even eliminating the requirement that they keep records of how many hours they work.
She says the new rules will make things safer. She stated:
"The research shows that this new rule will improve driver health and safety and the safety of our roadways," she said. "Ensuring drivers obtain necessary rest and restorative sleep will save lives."
Somehow allowing drivers to drive eleven hours instead of ten when they already aren't getting enough sleep will make things safer. George Orwell would be proud!

This is Joan Claybrook:

Joan Claybrook knows what she talks about. You see, she was the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) in the Carter administration from 1977-1981. That was when the President believed that it was the responsibility of government to protect Americans on the road! And not just facilitate profits for big business!

Ms. Claybrook, now president of Public Citizen stated:
"It reduces weekly off-duty time for the most exhausted drivers (truckers who drive the maximum number of allowable hours) and significantly weakens safety requirements for short-haul drivers," Joan Claybrook, president of the consumer group Public Citizen, said in a statement.
And are the roads safer for truck transportation right now? In fact, accidents are already on the rise.

As recently reported on August 3, 2005:
The number of persons killed in 2004 in US truck accidents increased 3.1 percent from the year before, according to early results from a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The number of people killed in truck accidents in 2004 totaled 5,190, an increase of 154 from the year before when 5,036 people died in accidents

The report also shows that the number of persons killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes declined from 2003.
So this President, who was elected to protect the American people is acting to extend trucker driving hours even in the face of an increasing accident and fatality rate! Well then who does this President represent?

This is a Wal-Mart truck. (thanks to Hank's pictures)

Wal-Mart can make more money if truckers drive longer hours.

In fact, as reported earlier this year:
Wal-Mart and other retailers are lobbying Congress to extend the workday for truckers to 16 hours, something labor unions and safety advocates say would make roadways more dangerous for all drivers.
It is time to have a President who works to make America safe for the people on the road. Safe for the drivers. Safe for the mothers, fathers, children, and safe for pedestrians. We need a President and an Administration that values public safety more than profits for mega-corporations!

America deserves better!



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