New 70 hour per week restriction to hit 18-wheeler drivers on Ju - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

New 70 hour per week restriction to hit 18-wheeler drivers on July 1

PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) -

Danny Loftin remembers the days he used to drive more than a hundred thousand miles a year as a truck driver.

Loftin still drives although he devotes most of his time to his bar-b-que restaurant in Prattville. Loftin says driving a big rig is so much more than just being on the road a lot.

"You're responsible for a 40 ton truck compared to a 4,000 pound car. If the two get tangled up, the car loses," said Loftin.

Earlier this week a Georgia man died after his 18-wheeler rear-ended another 18-wheeler on Interstate 85 near Shorter. In Clanton yesterday another tractor trailer rear-ended another big rig causing minor injuries. And this morning in Pike County, a truck driver was ejected and died on the scene after he struck a tree that had fallen in the road.

Despite what's happened this week in central Alabama, state troopers say the overall number of 18-wheeler accidents in Alabama is down but could easily go up since traffic is heavy this time of year.

"A lot of people are headed to the beach and we're going into Father's Day and you have more truckers on the road. The odds are higher you're going to have a wreck because you have more people on the road," said Capt. Tim Pullin, Commander of the Motor Carriers Division for the Department of Public Safety.

Capt. Pullin says safety really is a matter of common sense.

"Keep a safe distance and don't follow too closely. You'll get where you need to go," said Pullin.

To improve safety on America's highways the federal goverment is handing down a new regulation for truck drivers beginning July 1. They will no longer be able to drive 84 hours a week. That's being cut to no more than 70 hours a week.

"This should help reduce fatigue," said Pullin.

Loftin strongly disagrees with the new mandate claiming it will increase costs and force truck companies to spend more money on additional drivers. Loftin believes the new mandate will see drivers spending more time 'twiddling their thumbs.'

Still, that won't change Danny Loftin's love for the road and won't change Capt. Pullin's recipe for safe driving on the highways; respect for each other.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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