Alarms raised over proposed rollback of truck safety rules

Amendment to federal bill would increase number of driving hours for truckers

Safety advocates and the U.S. Department of Transportation have expressed alarm over an amendment to a federal funding bill that would reverse many recently introduced truck safety regulations, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The proposal would suspend a current rule requiring truck drivers to get two nights of rest per week and would also increase the number of hours truck drivers are allowed on the road each week. Critics say the proposals could lead to an increase in truck accidents.

Safety rules rolled back

The proposed amendment, which has been attached to a bill designed to avert a government shutdown, would suspend a current rule requiring a 36-hour rest period for truck drivers each week. The suspension would allow truck drivers to be on the road for up to 82 hours per week as opposed to the 70 hours currently mandated by law.

The rules were passed in 2011 and only came into force in 2013. Safety advocates say the proposed rollback of the regulations is being made by truck industry groups and does not serve the public interest, especially given that fatal truck accidents actually rose between 2009 and 2012. In 2012 alone, 3,912 people were killed in truck accidents across the U.S.

Transportation Secretary concerned

Concern over the proposed amendment was raised in a letter from Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. According to The Hill, he urged lawmakers not to pass the amendment, saying that studies had shown that truck drivers who only got one day of rest per week performed poorly on safety tests compared to drivers who got two nights of rest.

Furthermore, other studies show that truck drivers who are driving for 80 hours per week or more are prone to suffering from fatigue. The issue of truck driver fatigue was highlighted recently in a New Jersey crash involving comedian Tracy Morgan. In that crash, the truck driver had allegedly not slept for over 24 hours and was just approaching the end of a 14-hour shift.

Truck accidents

Any motor vehicle accident involving a truck has the potential to cause catastrophic damage, especially for any smaller vehicles that may have been involved in the collision. In many cases, such accidents are caused by truck drivers who may be fatigued, impaired, or distracted. Given that trucking companies will sometimes pressure their drivers into working long shifts that are dangerous and, at times, illegal, it is no surprise that truck safety has becoming an increasingly urgent topic for motorists both in Arkansas and across the country.

For those who have been injured in a truck accident, however, the issue is far more immediate. Such victims should get in touch with a personal injury attorney in order to discuss their case. Because truck accident claims can become extremely complicated, as they typically involve extensive knowledge of liability issues and federal and state safety regulations, it is best to have an experienced attorney on one's side when deciding what steps to take after such an accident.