Congressional Pushback against Trucking Industry Regulators Threatens Public Safety
"I haven't been behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer since January 1980, but the task hasn't changed much. I learned how to drive a truck on the job – by which I mean on the highway, surrounded by unsuspecting motorists. You have to be 21 to handle a big rig; I was underage, unlicensed and surely a public menace. Yet over the course of eight months on the road, I may not have been the scariest one out there." This troubling statement made by a former trucker in an article published in Bloomberg View makes clear that motorists who share the roads with massive tractor-trailers have a legitimate reason to fear for their safety. Although must truckers are safe, law-abiding drivers, the problems within the trucking industry continue to pose a significant threat to others on our roads.
While comedian Tracy Morgan's serious trucking accident garnered national attention, one only needs to look at recent semi-truck crash data to see that improving safety is a widespread industry problem. Large trucks were involved in 327,000 crashes that caused 4,000 deaths and 95,000 injuries in 2013 according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Despite an overall trend in recent years of declining motor vehicle accident fatality rates, the number of fatal truck crashes increased by 17 percent from 2009 through 2013 according to the DOT. Further, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports that one in five big-rigs inspections revealed safety violations. The scope of the danger is put in perspective when one considers that it was estimated that more people would die in crashes involving large trucks this year than in all of the domestic commercial plane crashes over the last 45 years.
Unfortunately, the trucking industry and businesses that rely on this industry to handle logistics have unleashed powerful lobbying efforts to convince Congress to rollback measures designed to protect public safety. For example, Congress recently pushed to permit commercial driver's operating large trucks to work 82 hours a week. This represents an increase from the current maximum of 70 hours over 8 days. This increase was accomplished by suspending a rule that required drivers to take a 34 hour rest break over two nighttime periods to trigger a work week restart. Legislators also engaged in efforts to deter the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from a planned investment on wireless technology that would permit better monitoring of tractor-trailers according to a New York Times report. In a further easing of safety regulations, Congress is considering lowering the age for interstate trucking (i.e. across state lines) from 21 to 18.
The proposal to allow heavier big-rigs is just one example of a proposal that could significantly increase the threat to public safety posed by large trucks. According to the Utah Department of Transportation, a fully loaded tractor-trailer weighing the current maximum of 80,000 pounds and traveling 65 miles per hour in perfect conditions takes approximately 525 feet to stop, which is the length of nearly two football fields. The dangers of tractor trailers on the road as well as the severity of the injuries incurred by those who are involved in tractor trailer accidents necessitates consulting with an Atlanta truck accident attorney. A lawyer can examine the facts and circumstances of what transpired, collect evidence, and take the necessary steps to protect your rights.
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It is too early to predict how this pushback by Congress will pan out given the NTSB is advocating more than a hundred recommendations to improve tractor-trailer safety. Until additional steps are taken to improve trucking industry safety, many people will continue to suffer serious injuries and/or deaths in fatal semi-truck collisions. If you have questions about large truck injury claims, our experienced Atlanta Trucking Accident Lawyers at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, explain our clients' options while aggressively pursuing for a favorable recovery. Our law firm has been representing those who suffer serious injuries in Atlanta and the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.