The trucking industry is facing numerous challenges that are jeopardizing the well-being of drivers that must be addressed to ensure highway safety is a top priority for the traveling public, a Teamster official said today.

Lamont Byrd, the Teamsters’ Director of Safety and Health, told members of a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee today that company pressure on drivers to be more productive, combined with the distressed state of infrastructure in this country and the effort of industry to lessen regulations could have a dire impact on all those on the nation’s roadways.

“These pressures come from many sources and some are related to policies that either don’t exist or haven’t kept pace with a changing transportation system,” Byrd said. “Specific policy issues related to infrastructure, driver compensation, hours of service, driver harassment, driver health, driving training and retention, automation and globalization all contribute to these pressures.”

Companies are expecting their drivers to be more productive, he said, even if that means violating safety rules on the books. In addition, trucking firms are pushing for watered down hours-of-service standards that would extend the work day, lowering the driving age for interstate truck drivers from 21 to 18, and increased automation even when safety is at risk.