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New driver legislation jeopardizes railroad workers’ safety

On Behalf of | Jan 15, 2021 | Uncategorized

If you drive commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) for the railroads for a living, your job may have become more dangerous. 

Last year the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) relaxed limits on drivers’ hours of service (HOS) regulations for those truckers hauling essential goods across the country. They claimed it was necessary to ensure supplies during the pandemic.

Two of the prominent railroad associations took advantage of this leniency. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) filed a petition to reduce the restrictions the FMCSA placed upon their drivers. They claimed the HOS restrictions upon drivers of CMV’s limited the ability of railroad companies to attend to repairs and keep supplies or services such as food and coal flowing.

FMCSA relaxes HOS service rules for railroad drivers

Sadly, the FMCSA acquiesced to their demands. It is terrible news for all railroad workers, not only those who sit in the driver’s seat. It means that when you travel in one of these vehicles to carry out repairs, there is a greater chance of an accident due to driver fatigue.

As the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), who opposed the rule changes, pointed out, there is no evidence to show the changes are needed. A global medical situation does not equate to an increase in railroad track damage. If it does, then the railroad companies should adapt to the problem by employing more people or changing their business model.

Railroad companies have a duty to provide safe working conditions for their employees. By seeking and achieving relaxation of HOS rules, they have made clear they are willing to jeopardize railroad workers’ health and safety to increase their profits.