Keep on truckin' -- a few more hours

A trucker stands by his rig


Scott Jagow: This week, truck drivers all over the country are braving snow and ice to deliver holiday packages on time. And because of a recent decision by the Bush Administration, those truckers could be logging longer hours. Sam Eaton explains.

Sam Eaton: The rules allow truckers to drive up to 11 hours a day and up to 77 hours over a seven-day period. The White House reinstated the higher driving limits last week after they were struck down twice in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

A Senate hearing takes up the issue today. At issue is the safety of those longer hours.

Joan Claybrook: All the research shows that after about eight hours, the driving degrades and these truckers get tired.

Joan Claybrook is with the consumer watchdog group Public Citizen, which is filing a motion in court today to have the rule revoked. She says truck driver fatalities have increased every year since the 11-hour driving policy was first instated in 2003.

But the American Trucking Association says overall, the crash rate is at its lowest point in more than three decades. And it says the lost productivity associated with shorter hours isn't justified.

I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.


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