How a Sluggish Economy Can Compromise Safety by Increasing Trucking Accidents
The slow speed of the so-called economic recovery has hit virtually all segments of the economy, including the agriculture industry from small family owned farms and dairies to large commercial agri-businesses. The federal government took action last year to ease the financial burden on farmers, which did not receive much fanfare but may have significant consequences for those who share the roadways with big-rigs in Georgia.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted an exemption from hours of service (HOS) rules to commercial carriers and truck drivers who transport farming equipment and goods. The exemption covers the full spectrum of agricultural equipment and products, such as loads of wheat, tankers full of milk and rigs transporting heavy farm machinery. HOS rules generally provide that a commercial driver may only operate a tractor-trailer a maximum of eleven consecutive hours with a maximum of fourteen total hours of on-duty time during a day. These rules also establish limits for maximum hours over a certain period of days and mandate the minimum duration of off-duty periods.
The exemption created by the FMCSA allows truck drivers and commercial carriers to disregard these anti-fatigue safety regulations if the drop-off and pick-up points for load are within a hundred miles of each other. This is an example of how economic hardships can compromise vehicle safety. There is no real basis for distinguishing the danger posed by fatigued truck drivers in the agricultural sector of the economy from any other segment of the trucking industry. Tractor-trailers that are fully loaded with agricultural products or equipment are just as dangerous when driven by a fatigued driver as any other commercial big-rig. Because driver fatigue is a leading cause of trucking accidents, this exemption compromises motor vehicle occupant and pedestrian safety in the name of short-term economic benefits.
While the personal injury attorneys at Montlick & Associates understand the vital role that agriculture plays in our state's economy, we question the wisdom of easing the rules that mitigate the risk associated with the most common cause of trucking accidents. The danger of this policy has been seen in other industries like the petroleum industry. Exemption of the oil industry from anti-fatigue trucking regulations has resulted in a substantially higher risk of fatigue-related collisions involving trucks transporting petroleum products.
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If you are injured in a truck accident, you might have a right to financial compensation. Our Georgia truck accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are committed to holding negligent parties' accountable for the injuries and wrongful deaths caused by their negligence. Montlick and Associates has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over thirty years, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
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