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Lower Speed Limits, Longer Driving Hours Weighed for Nation’s Truckers

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A pair of proposals under consideration in Washington could lead to major changes for heavy truck drivers.

The Transportation Department is in the process of easing federal regulations that limit the number of hours per day that long-haul truck drivers can be out on the road.

Currently, truck drivers can’t be on duty for more than 14 hours at a time, and they can’t drive for more than 11 of those hours. After that 14-hour period, they must take off at least 10 straight hours to rest. Drivers are also required to take a 30-minute break before they reach eight hours of driving if they’re planning to drive for more than eight hours.

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The Trump administration and the trucking industry say those time limits should be relaxed to give businesses and drivers more flexibility. Safety advocates say the rules save lives, help prevent driver fatigue, and shouldn’t be watered down.

Meanwhile, two U.S. senators want to bar heavy trucks from driving more than 65 mph anywhere in America. The law proposed by Delaware Democrat Chris Coons and Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson could take the place of a federal regulation that’s been delayed for more than 10 years. Coons and Isakson say the law, which would be enforced automatically via already-existing electronic speed-limiting software, could help prevent fatal crashes.

The trucking industry isn’t a fan of this proposal, saying it would lead to dangerous speed mismatches between trucks and surrounding traffic. Safety organizations say the rule would make the nation’s highways safer.

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News Source: The Associated Press (one and two)