Tuesday, April 2, 2013

ATU Says : Address bus driver fatigue

Transit union to administration: Address bus driver fatigue


By Keith Laing - 03/27/13 12:28 PM ET
The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) is calling for the Obama administration to address long-distance bus driver fatigue.

The Washington, D.C.-based union said the administration has done a good job cracking down on unsafe bus companies, but has done little to address scheduling rules for drivers.

"The [Department of Transportation] crackdown will take more unsafe bus companies off road, but this loophole in federal law continues to allow unscrupulous operators to get away with paying criminally low wages, forcing drivers to work as much as 100 hours a week to support their families,” ATU President Larry Hanley said in a statement Wednesday. “That is the real reason behind driver fatigue, which is the number one cause of fatal bus accidents on our highways.”

Hanley said bus drivers are exempt from the law that governs most workplace rules, such as minimum wage and overtime pay, the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The result is that drivers work longer hours and are tired during overnight trips, Hanley said.

“The federal agencies, Congress and bus companies need to recognize that to deal with the problem of driver fatigue we need laws that would require intercity bus operators to abide by the same overtime rules governing the majority of American workers,” Hanley said. “Extending these protections to intercity bus drivers is not only the right thing to do; it’s the safe thing to do for our riders and our drivers.” 

The Department of Transportation touted this week that it was hiring "special investigators" to oversee intercity bus operations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said the effort was part of "a top-to-bottom analysis of its current passenger carrier oversight system to look for opportunities to strengthen its authority and practices."

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