As Truck Accidents Claim Lives, Snarl Traffic, Blumenthal, Truckers Fight Against Dangerous Efforts to Roll Back Truck Safety

Congressional Republicans Seeking to Permit 18-year-old Drivers, Roll Back Rest Requirements, Allow Longer, Heavier Trucks

(Hartford, CT) – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Connecticut truck drivers voiced their opposition to dangerous Republican-led efforts in Congress to undermine truck safety.

“With nearly 4,000 people killed in truck-related accidents each year, we simply cannot afford to undermine and roll back critical safety regulations. Fatigued drivers, underage and inexperienced drivers, and massive trucks are not just accidents waiting to happen—they are deadly threats that cause accidents each and every day nationwide, claiming lives, snarling traffic and causing serious damage to our roads and infrastructure. We cannot allow special interests to hijack our highways. I will continue to fight to not only stop these deadly efforts, but to strengthen existing laws to improve the safety of our highways for all users,” Blumenthal said.

Large trucks cause an average of 10 fatal crashes nationwide every day, with such accidents routinely clogging Connecticut highways, claiming lives and causing serious injuries. In the past several weeks alone, a tractor-trailer roll-over on I-91 in Middletown snarled rush hour traffic for hours, a tractor-trailer struck a ConnDOT worker on I-95 in Fairfield causing a ten-mile traffic jam, a trucker sustained critical injuries after his wrecker blew a tire on I-95 in Stonington and caught fire, and a tractor-trailer carrying eggs crashed and caught fire at the Stratford-Milford line on I-95 shutting down the highway during the morning commute, among numerous other serious accidents.

Despite the existing, serious threats to safety posed by large trucks, Congressional Republicans and special interest groups are seeking to further undermine safety by permitting 18-year-old drivers, rolling back rest requirements and allowing longer, heavier trucks on the road.

Recent roll backs and safety threats include:

  • Blocking rest requirements for truck drivers, who can be pushed by trucking companies to work 82 hours a week, twice the average American work week.
  • Lowering the permissible age for commercial motor vehicle drivers from 21 to 18, despite the fact that the fatal crash rate for 18-to-20-year old drivers being more than double the rate of drivers over 21.
  • Overriding state laws – including Connecticut’s – to allow “deadly double” twin 33-feet trucks. These massive trucks are 17 feet longer than those allowed now.
  • House Republicans seeking to increase permitted truck weight from 80,000 pounds to 91,000 pounds.