Will Rollback in Trucking Laws Lead to More Fatal Truck Crashes?

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Fatal truck crashes in the United States are on the rise.  If pending legislation that favors the trucking industry passes, the driving public could be in even more danger.

Driver error has been shown to be the leading cause of fatal commercial trucking accidents.  That’s why federal regulations covering truckers and trucking companies have focused on preventing or limiting negligent actions that lead to catastrophe.

But the federal government lately has been considering repealing or altering a number of those safety regulations, despite crashes involving big rigs are increasing and more Americans are concerned.

Truck Drivers Who Fall Asleep Behind the Wheel

Irresponsible truckers who stay on the road to the point of exhaustion can make poor decisions or simply aren’t physically capable of meeting the challenges of the job.  When they reach this point, fatigued truckers who fall asleep behind the wheel or react too slowly to changing road conditions can crash.

And more often than not, these trucking accidents are catastrophic.  Per the federal government’s most recent statistics, 72 percent of those killed in large truck crashes are occupants in other vehicles.

In 2017, much-debated federal legislation to help address tired truck drivers was enacted.  New hours of service rules limited the number of hours commercial truck drivers could be on the road per day and per week.  The rules also included mandatory rest periods for truckers.

In February 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced it is going to revise these rules.  No specifics on what those changes are going to be but the revisions are in response to complaints from the trucking industry, where profits are routinely placed above public safety.

In a separate but related move, the federal government previously instituted a new rule that required drivers to record their driving and resting hours using electronic devices.  The electronic devices replaced paper logs that many truckers had been found fudging.

But revisions to the ELD mandate are in the works, even though the law is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. The FMCSA reported last year that, since the adoption of the ELD mandate, the number of truckers violating hours-of-service has fallen.

A bill was just filed in Congress to exempt smaller trucking companies from the ELD mandate.  These companies complained about the cost of employing ELDs.  But their tired truck drivers can cause just as much havoc as drivers of bigger companies.

Truck Safety Laws Americans Favor

These new trucking laws not only run counter to real-word results, but they also run counter to a growing concern for truck safety by the driving public.  In October 2018, Road Safe for America – a nonprofit organization working to reduce fatal truck crashes – published poll findings that showed an overwhelming majority of Americans favored two key technologies that could reduce the dangers of speeding truckers:

  • 79 percent of those polled favor speed limiters on commercial trucks that limit top highway speeds to 65 mph
  • 82 percent of those polled want automatic emergency braking systems on large trucks

It doesn’t appear that safety laws will be the answer any time soon to reducing the number of people killed in trucking accidents.  Truckers and trucking companies will have to act more responsibly and have more concern for other drivers – a not-very-likely outlook.

If you lost a loved one or you were seriously injured in a crash caused by a commercial truck, contact a truck accident attorney to hold the irresponsible parties accountable.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Articles March 25, 2019

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