Debate over truck driver fatigue continues in Congress

by: Tenikka Smith Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

There's a showdown in Congress about whether more regulation is needed to keep tired truckers off the roads.
 
Next month will mark three years since Charlotte trucker Shawn Johnson was killed in a crash on Interstate 85 near Greenville, South Carolina.
 
His wife Dana said he was hit head-on by another tractor-trailer whose driver fell asleep at the wheel.
 
"Shawn was coming over a hill and he didn't have time to see it coming," said Dana Johnson.
 
Since her husband's death, Dana has worked to raise awareness about driver fatigue.
 
"I think there should be more regulations, I really do," she said.
 
Last July, new federal regulations decreased weekly work hours for truckers to 70 from 82 and a 34-hour mandatory rest break in between.
 
Less than a year later, a Republican lawmaker and a leading trucking lobby want Congress to suspend the new rules.
 
But now Democratic lawmakers are pushing for more regulations following the crash involving comedian Tracy Morgan in New Jersey.
 
According to court documents, a truck driver hit his limo bus after being awake for 24 hours. 
Some lawmakers now want to see electronic logs instead of manual logs and black boxes in trucks. 
 
Howard Shope is the president of Charlotte-based International Express and said the U.S. already has some of the toughest trucking regulations in the world.
 
He believes the focus should be on more enforcement instead.
 
"I think enforcement of existing laws and better oversight of those bad employers and bad drivers."  Shope said. "That's the answer we are looking for."
 
Both Shope and Johnson agree that the trucking industry is a critical part of commerce.
 
"I don't think people realize truckers make the world go round," Johnson said.
 
But they both said it's up to companies and drivers to put safety above profit.
 
"At the end of the day it's up to the individuals and employers to do what's right," said Shope.
 
To read more about the hours of service regulations put in place last July, click here.