Trucking Industry’s Business Concerns Versus Public Safety

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The trucking industry’s latest list of top business concerns may reveal their priorities, or lack of them, for the safety of other drivers on the road.

Each year the American Transportation Research Institute publishes a list of the trucking industry’s top 10 worries based on its surveys of motor carriers. The ATRI is an arm of the American Trucking Association – a major lobbying group – and recently published its list for 2017. At the top was a shortage of drivers.

Citing an improving economy, the ATRI forecasted the industry’s potential inability to meet a growing demand for new truck drivers. This is the first time a driver shortage was the number one industry concern in the ATRI’s survey since 2006.

How are New Truck Drivers Trained?

Not having enough drivers can crimp trucking companies’ bottom lines, so their concerns are understandable. But if the industry is able to recruit a wave of new drivers, how will all those drivers be trained to operate their big rigs safely? This should be everyone’s top concern, as previous research has shown the top cause of fatal trucking accidents is driver error.

The same trucking industry that cites the need for new drivers fought the federal government’s effort to improve new-driver training when it was introduced. The rule, which applies to new commercial motor vehicle drivers on both interstate and intrastate roads, was recently adopted, but not before it was watered down.  For example, it requires no minimum amount of practice driving hours on the road for new truckers before they hit the road for real.

Fudging Truck Drivers’ Hours on the Road

The number two concern of the trucking industry is also an attempt at preventing catastrophic truck wrecks: the electronic logging device mandate. This federal rule requires truckers to record their driving hours using electronic devices rather than traditional paper books, which can be easily manipulated. The honest recording of driver hours is important, as truck drivers who spend too much time behind the wheel can become dangerously fatigued.

The third biggest trucking industry concern, new Hours of Service regulations, is related to that ELD mandate. These regulations place limitations on how often a driver can be on the road during the work week, as well as forces drivers to take mandatory rest periods. These hours are what drivers must keep track of.

The trucking lobby strongly opposed these regulations, and it enjoyed some success. Following the trucking industry’s fight, a clause requiring truckers to take a 34-hour break between work weeks was reverted back to a less stringent 2013 version.

So the top three worries of the trucking industry this year seem to genuinely conflict with public safety.  It’s obvious that motor carriers’ main concern is the health of their businesses, not the health of other drivers and their passengers.

If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a catastrophic accident involving a commercial truck, don’t expect the trucking company to cooperate or be forthcoming. Consult a truck accident attorney to represent your legal rights.

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

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Articles October 26, 2017