June 13, 2014
By Neal Tepel
Washington, D.C. — The accident involving a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. driver and comedian Tracy Morgan’s entourage exemplifies the need for caution before trucking industry regulation are changed that allow for more driving time and less rest for truck drivers. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters recently sent an open letter to the US House of Representatives saying any steps to “delay, revise or replace the current hours of service regulations should be opposed.
The two-page letter, signed by general president of the Teamsters, James B. Hoffa, emphasized the union’s position that drivers are concerned with safety and adds, “truck driving is a very stressful job, especially with the congestion on our overburdened highway system. Drivers have to be especially alert these days as they have less time and distance to change lanes or stop quickly. It makes little sense, therefore, to shorten even more the time that truck drivers have to rest, recuperate , and get back on the road and to put them in bigger combination vehicles that require greater stopping distances, more difficult lane changes, and longer merging areas to get up to speed with traffic flow.”
In a press release announcing the sending of the letter, Hoffa and the Teamsters address Wal-Mart’s safety record. According to the union, “this most recent fatal accident is the ninth for Wal-Mart’s trucking fleet in the last 24 months. This frequency has raised serious questions about how the retail giant—which has a reputation as a bad actor when it comes to worker treatment—enforces hours of service rules.”
In the announcement, Hoffa states, “The tragic accident that claimed the life of comedian James McNair and injured many others including actor Tracy Morgan, could have been prevented had Wal-Mart’s driver been properly rested rather than reportedly going 24 hours without a break.
“While the notoriety of the victims in this accident pushed truck safety to the front page, more than 4,000 lives are claimed each year on our highways as a result of accidents involving trailer trucks. We must ensure that hours of service rules provide enough rest for drivers so cumulative fatigue doesn’t put the driving public at risk.”