Commercial trucks are necessary for our day-to-day lives. They deliver important goods across the country with drivers working long hours. When those drivers find themselves involved in an accident caused by poor working conditions or improperly maintained vehicles, things can get complicated. No one involved in that accident deserves to be there, and it is only by the trucking company’s negligence that the accident happened in the first place. That is why new rules that will go into effect this year are good for everyone on the road, including our nation’s truck drivers.
What are the new rules for the trucking industry?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is proposing new rules in 2022 affecting electronic logging devices (ELDs), “automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems and roadside inspections.” The original ELD rule had been in place from 2016 to 2019 and resulted in truckers feeling more fatigued. With the original rule, truckers felt rushed, pressured to take breaks when they did not feel they needed them, and forced to drive when they would have rather taken a break. This ELD regulation created a sense of harassment among some drivers within a larger fleet. Other drivers felt harassed by the device itself, worried about making even the smallest mistakes.
Another change the FMCSA is proposing involves automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems. The rule specifically affecting this will support an upcoming rule to “require and/or standardize AEB equipment performance on heavy trucks.”
Finally, the FMCSA is also planning to gather information on how it can effectively identify unfit trucking companies and remove them from the highways and roads. The FMCSA seeks to use inspection data and available safety data in determining which trucking carriers are fit to operate. Additionally, they look to change the current “three-tier safety fitness rating structure,” and improve how law enforcement can shift their attention to targeting high-risk operators.
More trucking safety recommendations
In addition to these rules, the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) gave a list of recommendations for the Department of Transportation to take on for 2022. These include rethinking the new hours of service rules that went into effect in 2020, driver safety and fitness rules, large truck crash studies, information technology, truck underride guards, automatic emergency braking (AEB), autonomous vehicle (AV) testing / advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and truck size and weight.
The new hours of service rules have drivers working longer hours with less break time. It is no wonder that the HAC wants to re-evaluate these hours. Drivers are already working long hours as it is, and with the current truck driver shortage and supply chain challenges, they must work longer and harder. This, no doubt, puts drivers in stressful and dangerous situations, posing a risk to themselves and everyone on the road should they grow too tired and fatigued.
Large truck crash studies are being highly recommended since the House Appropriations Committee finds the trend of “injuries to people involved in large-truck crashes in 2019 increased more than 5%, while deaths increased 36% since 2010.” An appropriations bill last year allocated $30 million for a truck crash study, and the HAC wants a brief before the fiscal year 2022 budget bill.
Truck underride guards are an important recommendation, as 362 people died last year in rear-end accidents involving smaller cars crashing into the back of tractor trailers. The HAC wants the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to work with engineers, researchers, and the trucking industry to deploy and adopt rear and side underride guards.
These are just a few of the necessary changes needed in order to get trucking companies to make our roads safer for their drivers, and for everyone else on the road as well. Too often, negligence and lack of proper safety protocols leads to so many accidents involving trucks. The improvement of safety of trucks and improvement in the driver’s work-life balance, would lead to increased safety on the roads. It seems that the FMSCA and the House Appropriations Committee are at least trying to make it so that someone is watching out for the safety of the American Public while on the roads.
If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a truck or a commercial vehicle, you need an experienced attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve. At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, we have a successful history of securing high-dollar settlements and verdicts for our clients. Call our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847 or our Savannah office at 912-417-3774 or use our contact page to set up an appointment for counsel and advice.
Steve Lowry is an award-winning litigator who has secured record-setting jury verdicts on behalf of his clients. A passionate advocate for individuals who have been harmed by the actions of others, Steve has won numerous top 10 verdicts in Georgia.
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