Even as millions of Americans prepare for holiday travel, politicians in Washington are pushing for policies that will make our roads unsafe.
In an effort to make roads safer, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates truck safety standards, has proposed changing their rules to reduce the number of hours that truck drivers are allowed to drive in a day.
The simple truth is that the old rule is a serious safety concern for American drivers. As it stands, trucking companies have the ability to force their drivers to drive up to 11 hours in a 21 hour period. Additionally, the rule allows drivers to drive up to 88 hours in 8 days -- that's more than two full work weeks in just over a week! Under the existing rules, truck companies can force their truck drivers to drive extremely long hours without time off to sleep.
As a former truck driver, I know that spending 10 plus hours behind the wheel at a time can lead to sleep deprivation and fatigue. So it's no surprise to me that under the current standards, 65 percent of drivers have reported being drowsy while driving and a shocking 48 percent have said they've fallen asleep behind the wheel.
Fatigue and sleep deprivation while driving a truck is clearly dangerous and leads to serious accidents.
It should be clear why the FMCSA wants to tighten these loose standards. But despite the clear risks to the driving public, Republicans in Washington are seeking to block the new, safer rules from taking effect.
I serve on the House Oversight Committee. Just this week, Republicans on this committee held a hearing to attempt to block the FMCSA's new trucker safety rules. You can watch a video of my participation in this hearing below.
As someone with truck driving experience, I have a deep respect for the profession and the hard work that it entails. That is why we must do everything that we can to ensure that trucking companies don't force their drivers to drive long hours with few breaks to sleep and rest.
Please stay safe on the roads this holiday season.
Follow Rep. Bruce Braley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BruceBraley