Rules that transportation safety experts have spent years designing are being tossed out in the Republican Administration’s wholesale deconstruction of our federal government. A dozen transportation safety rules under development or already adopted have been repealed, withdrawn, delayed, or put on the back burner since Republicans took over the Executive Branch last year. There have been no significant new safety rules approved during that time. These rules would have protected Americans from speeding tractor-trailers and sleepy railroad engineers, among other things.
Many of the rules were prompted by tragic events. “These rules have been written in blood,” said John Risch, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers’ legislative director. “But we’re in a new era now of little-to-no new regulations no matter how beneficial they might be.”
One rule that’s stalled would have required new heavy trucks to have software that electronically limits their speeds. The government didn’t designate a top speed but said it had studied 60, 65 and 68 mph. The rule would save as many as 498 lives per year and produce a net cost saving to society of $475 million to nearly $5 billion annually depending on the top speed the government picked, the Department of Transportation estimated two years ago.
Last summer, the Republican Administration withdrew a rule the government was in the early stages of writing to require train engineers and truck and bus drivers to be screened for sleep apnea, a condition that pauses breathing and prevents restful sleep. The National Transportation Safety Board has cited sleep apnea as a cause of 13 rail and highway accidents it has investigated, including three commuter train crashes in New York and New Jersey since 2013.
Almost unnoticed in the daily turmoil of scandals from this Administration, Republicans are steadily destroying the safety net Americans have come to expect.
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Read more: Transport safety rules sidelined under Trump