When U.S. lawmakers recently had the chance to keep the public informed about truckers most likely to cause serious accidents, they pulled a FAST one.
A newly passed federal law, called Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, funds roadway construction and repair projects for five years. But it also contains a mixed-bag of trucking safety provisions.
CSA Safety Program Mothballed
One such provision pulled from public view the government’s safety scoring of truckers and trucking companies. Enacted in 2010, “Compliance, Safety, Accountability” measures the safety performance of big-rig drivers and carriers, and identifies those most at risk for causing accidents.
The safety data was available to the public. The program now has been mothballed for at least 18 months until changes – most likely favorable to trucking concerns – are made.
Despite some discussion, the FAST Act did not address the unrealistically low liability insurance coverage trucking companies are allowed to carry. Since 1985, the minimum has been $750,000. If this financial requirement kept up with inflation, according to the FMCSA it would be about $3 million today.
There is some good news. Unrelated to the FAST Act, a federal rule requiring truckers to record their driving hours on electronic logging devices should be finalized by the end of 2015. The previous paper method was easily manipulated by unscrupulous truckers and trucking companies.
Better Tracking of Truckers’ Hours
Better tracking of drivers’ workloads may reduce the number of exhausted truckers who work longer than legally allowed, which is 72 hours per week. Tired truck drivers are a significant cause of trucking accidents in the United States.
A new “Driver Coercion” rule becomes effective January 29, 2016. It establishes fines for those who pressure truck drivers (carriers, shippers, etc.) to ignore safety regulations. That such a specific rule had to be implemented is telling.
Unfortunately, when trucking companies and their drivers skirt laws, act negligently and cause accidents, the results often are devastating.
If you had a family member killed in a crash caused by a truck or you were seriously hurt in one yourself, contact an attorney who represents victims of catastrophic trucking accidents to discuss your legal options to just compensation.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.