Law bringing changes to truck driver sleep requirements

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There's a battle in congress over how much sleep a truck driver needs to be safe on the road.

Lawmakers want to make sure that drivers aren't working beyond 82 hours during a seven-day period.

The battle hits home for one central Ohio father.

Amy Joe Snider was killed in 2013 by a truck driver who police say fell asleep at the wheel.

“[He] didn't even slow down going about 70 MPH,” Snider’s father Roger Hampshire Sr. said. “They said he hit the back end of my daughter's car and drove over the top of her.”

The concern over tired truck drivers has Congress looking at ways to make sure they have enough sleep after they finish their 11-hour daily shifts.

Hampshire, who is a former truck driver, said even he drove tired more than 100 times.

Ohio Traffic Crashes Involving Semi-Trucks/Trailers

Severity

2015

2016 YTD

Total

Total

At-Fault

Total

At-Fault

Total

At-Fault

Fatal

117

41

17

5

134

46

Injury

2,301

1,260

755

386

3,056

1,646

Property Damage

9,056

5,464

2,940

1,789

11,996

7,253

Total

11,474

6,765

3,712

2,180

15,186

8,945

Under the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Bill, the trucking industry wants to maintain what's called a 34-hour restart.

That means after 73 hours in a seven-day period, a driver can't drive for another 34 hours.

Truckers applaud the bill because it suspends a provision that would require them to be off the road between 1 and 5 a.m. during that 34-hour period.

“We feel it's a public health risk to be able to put people [and] trucks back on the road after 5 a.m. into rush hour traffic which is the last place we want to have our trucks and the last place the public wants them,” Tom Balzer, President of the Ohio Trucking Association, said.

But opponents say the trucking industry is giving drivers more excuses to drive tired.

“They can only use that system once a week which means they can't jam up their hours, take some time off, and then jam some more hours,” Joan Claybrook, Chairman of Advocates For Auto And Highway Safety, said.

Claybrook’s group says truckers need more than 34 hours off.

“We think it should be at least 48 if not 60 because special trucking interests do not have any scientific proof of their bogus claims,” she said. “They don’t want to have any congressional hearings or review because the public will find out they have no data to support their position.”

“In the 34-hour restart we saw the best safety statistics,” Balzer said.

As for Hampshire, he hopes something is done to ensure truckers are driving rested, not tired.