The Trump administration relaxed rules on Thursday that limit working hours for truck drivers, and the changes sparked immediate protests from labor and security groups.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration extended the maximum work day for short-distance drivers from 12 to 14 hours and applied the longer hours to more drivers by expanding the geographic definition of short-distance driving.
The agency said the changes will save trucking companies more than $ 2.8 billion in 10 years, allow drivers to make more deliveries and will not compromise safety. The agency did not change the current limit of 11 hours of driving time for one day.
Labor leaders and safety advocates argued that a longer work day will lead to more tired drivers and more accidents, even if the number of hours spent behind the wheel remains the same.
Teamsters President James P. Hoffa said letting truckers work longer hours “puts everyone on the road at risk.”
Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, called the changes “dangerous and deadly deviations from current safety policies.”
Thursday’s changes will not only extend the day of service for short-distance drivers, but will also double the square miles they can cover, up to 150 miles (240 kilometers) from their base of operations.