Senate Bill 1739, the Truck Safety Act, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. It was assigned to the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Senate Committee. This Act would address several safety related topics, including:
• Required rule making for collision avoidance systems in commercial motor vehicles;
• Finalize regulations to equip commercial motor vehicles with speed limiting devices;
• Establish a study on the effects of excessive commuting for commercial vehicle operators;
• Mandate employers to pay drivers from hours worked as opposed to miles driven;
• And finally, raise the minimum insurance limits from $750,000 to $1,500,000.
Federal road construction funding is also tied to this bill. Since the bill stalled in committee, Congress passed another temporary patch for federal road funding through Oct. 31, 2015. Trucking safety is still a very high priority among American drivers. Most drivers believe change should happen in the trucking industry. But Congress continues to do the trucking industry’s bidding by frustrating the very regulators the government has employed to oversee motor carriers. Congress has:
• pushed to allow truck drivers to work 82 hours a week, up from the current 70 hours over eight days, by eliminating the requirement that drivers take a two-day rest break each week;
• the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has been discouraged from investing in wireless technology designed to improve the monitoring of drivers and their vehicle; and
• signaled its willingness to allow longer and heavier trucks despite widespread public opposition.
Congress also wants to lower the minimum age for drivers of large trucks that are allowed to travel from state-to-state to 18, from 21. The trucking industry has resisted most of the safety devices and safety changes. Even though the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the annual cost to the economy of trucks and bus crashes to be $99,000,000.
Large trucks are disproportionately involved in fatal accidents. While heavy trucks account for less than 10 percent of the total miles traveled in the United States during 2013, the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) recently reported that they were involved in one in eight of all fatal accidents and about one quarter of all fatal accidents in work zones. Many accidents involved trucks rear-ending vehicles that have stopped or slowed because of accidents or road work.
Technology to prevent or lessen the impact of such crashes is available for all of the manufacturers of heavy trucks in North America. Yet only about 3 percent of the tractor trailers are equipped with any version of collision avoidance technology. Most of the heavy trucks operated in Europe are equipped with the latest technological advances in safety; however, the US trucking industry has largely avoided using safety technologies available for vehicles because of their cost. The trucking industry also bases its opposition to safety-rule changes on money, saying the increased cost will hurt profits and raise rates for shippers and ultimately consumers.
Higher safety standards and shorter work weeks may increase freight cost, but some of those standards should save carriers money in the long run through lower insurance rates and damage claims. Since the trucking industry is a more than $700 billion a year industry, a small increase in safety cost would not put a large financial strain on carriers.
Most Americans agree that the trucking industry is vital to the nation’s economic well-being. It carries almost 70 percent of all domestic freight, and executives for trucking companies have done an excellent job of keeping costs down. We can only hope Congress will pass a comprehensive Truck Safety Act. If you agree, contact your Senators and House members and ask them to pass a strong safety measure without delay. If you need more information, contact Mike Crow, a lawyer in our firm, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Mike.Crow@beasleyallen.com.
Source: New York Times and Truckingwatchdog.com
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.