So why do we need new trucking safety regulations?
The new limits would "completely change what we're able to do," Mr. Tuttle says.
The rules, proposed in December by a Transportation Department agency, would cut the daily driving limit for truck drivers to 10 hours from 11 hours. They would require drivers to be off duty for 34 hours, including two full nights, once they reached their driving limit for the week.
The agency also has proposed shrinking work shifts for truckers, which might include loading or unloading, to 13 hours a day from 14 hours and requiring a 30-minute break after seven straight hours on the road.
Trucking companies would face fines of as much as $11,000 for exceeding the new limits.
Federal regulators say the measures are necessary to prevent highway fatalities caused by truck-driver fatigue, which was cited as a possible cause in the deaths of six people last month when an 18-wheeler plowed into an Amtrak train in Nevada.
According to Transportation Department data, the number of highway fatalities involving trucks has declined over the past decade, hitting a record low of 2,987 in 2009, down from 4,204 in 2007. Over the same period, the number of truck accidents that caused injuries dropped to 51,000 from 72,000. . . .
Those accident numbers don't really give a good picture of what is going on. Not only are there few accidents involving trucks (though it would be better to get an idea of accidents per mile driven), but those few accidents rarely are the fault of commercial truck drivers and even fewer of them result from fatigue. After all, the regulations are motivated to stop fatigue related accidents.
Fewer than 9% of those deaths involve commercial vehicles. More than 80% of those accidents are the fault of the non-commercial driver. Of those death related accidents only 4% of trucks are fatigue related. . . .