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Less Hours, More Rest for Truckers [AUDIO]

Following a couple of recent, high-profile truck accidents, U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez are pushing back against efforts in Washington to allow more hours behind the wheel for big rig drivers each week.

Tim Boyle, Getty Images

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An accident on the New Jersey Turnpike in Cranbury two weekends ago severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another comedian. It has since been revealed that the Wal-Mart driver in that crash had not slept for 24 hours prior to the crash. Another truck crash on the George Washington Bridge killed one of the two drivers involved, and created a huge traffic mess.

The U.S. Senate recently passed an amendment to roll back the current weekly driver limit to its previous 82 hours. The limit now stands at 70 hours before a driver must take at least 34 hours of rest, a rule which was enforced beginning in July 2013.

“The number of fatalities caused by truck accidents has risen by 16 percent since 2009,” said Booker, who added that by raising the weekly limit, safety efforts are going the wrong way. “In New Jersey in 2012, 61 fatal accidents occurred involving a large truck.”

Menendez said special interests in the trucking industry are behind the push to again increase weekly driver hours.

But those in the industry maintain the 70-hour week is putting more trucks on the road during rush hour, the thinking being that the safest time for truckers to drive is overnight. U.S. Senator Susan Collins of Maine says the increase in rush hour truck traffic may be an unintended consequence of the lesser driving limit.

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