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The spending bill in Congress is not just about money. Tucked inside the bill are provisions to change regulations affecting everything from banking to the environment. One regulatory rollback has those concerned about truck safety especially upset.
The regulation is part of a series of rules that spell out the number of hours that long-haul truck drivers, the ones behind the wheel of the big rigs on the interstates, can be on the road.
Last year, a rule took effect that required those drivers to take two consecutive nights off after every 70 hours they spend behind the wheel.
The trucking industry, which didn't like the requirement in the first place, said it had an unintended consequence: It forced more truckers to take to the road early in the morning, when commuters and school buses are out.
"Those hours are less safe statistically," says Dave Osiecki, vice president of the American Trucking Association. "They're trying to reduce nighttime crashes? They may be causing daytime crashes."
No one knows yet if that rule caused the number of crashes to increase; the Department of Transportation hasn't compiled accident data for the past year. But Osiecki says truck crashes had been declining before the rule...