STATEMENT OF CONGRESSMAN MIKE HONDAHIGHWAY SAFETY PRESS CONFERENCE

STATEMENT OF CONGRESSMAN MIKE HONDA

HIGHWAY SAFETY PRESS CONFERENCE

MARCH 8, 2005

This week, the House will consider passage of H.R. 3, the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU), legislation that will provide billions of dollars for road construction and public transit to reduce congestion. H.R. 3 is not just about getting drivers to their destinations more quickly, however — this bill is also about getting drivers and their passengers to their destinations more safely. Efforts to lengthen the workday for truckers undermine this goal, and so I have joined with safety and labor groups to oppose the Boozman Amendment to H.R. 3.

The Boozman Amendment extends the workday for truck drivers from an already grueling 14 hours to a formidable16 hours — almost double the workday of an average American. The amendment purports to increase the productivity of the trucking industry while simultaneously offering drivers additional opportunities during their shifts to rest.  But common sense and science suggest that this amendment is without merit, and will actually decrease the amount of time truckers spend in continuous rest.

More than 42,000 Americans are killed each year on the nation’s highways, and last year, 4,215 were killed in California alone in highway crashes.  In the past three years alone, there have been 15,000 truck-related deaths. Research consistently proves that irregular and fragmented sleep slows reaction times and leads to sleep debt accumulation. The trucking industry, meanwhile, suffers from fraudulent log entries by drivers who are increasingly pressured by profit-conscious trucking companies to work while “off the clock.” The Boozman amendment will only encourage these unsafe practices.

These deaths constitute a public health crisis. The Boozman Amendment will worsen this crisis.

If the House Rules Committee provides for consideration of this amendment, I will oppose and urge my colleagues to do so as well.