House Letter in Support of Boozman and Graves/Boucher Amendments for TEA-LU, H.R. 3
March 9, 2005
TO MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: As the U.S. House of Representatives begins debate on the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (H.R. 3), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million companies and organizations of every size, sector and region, urges your support for two amendments that provide safety and efficiency to transport.
We support an amendment by Representative John Boozman to allow commercial truck drivers the ability to take breaks while not operating their vehicle. Since January 2004, new rules have been in effect governing the hours that truck drivers are on duty and at rest. Drivers are limited to a maximum daily tour of duty of 14 consecutive hours and are required to take a minimum of ten hours off-duty before they may drive again. They also have weekly on-duty limits.
The Boozman amendment would allow drivers to take up to two hours of break time and still be able to complete their daily tasks. Under the current rule, many drivers do not take lunch or other breaks since once they clock in, they are "on the clock." The amendment would not change the rule that requires drivers be off-duty for at least 10 hours before they resume driving.
In addition, passage of the amendment would reduce layovers. Research by the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that drivers who return home every day experience fewer fatigue-related crashes than those who sleep on the road.
We also support a bipartisan amendment by Representatives Sam Graves and Rick Boucher that would create a national standard to clearly exclude non-negligent vehicle renting and leasing companies from liability for the actions of a customer operating a safe vehicle. Vicarious liability, or "liability without fault," is an outdated doctrine left over from the earliest days of motor vehicles. The Graves/Boucher amendment would restore fairness to the vehicle renting and leasing industry, increase choice in vehicle financing options, facilitate interstate commerce, and lower commercial and consumer costs.
The U.S. Chamber is committed to working with Congress and the Administration to enact a TEA-21 reauthorization measure that provides maximum available funding to meet the nation's growing transportation needs and includes provisions that allow the transportation planning and approval process to operate in a more efficient manner.
We urge "YES" votes on the Boozman and Graves/Boucher amendments. The U.S. Chamber will consider using votes on or in relation to these issues for inclusion in its annual "How They Voted" ratings.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce