Despite criticism from safety experts, Congress is considering a move to suspend federal safety regulations intended to prevent truck accidents.
For nearly two decades, safety advocates fought to enact rules that would help prevent truck drivers from getting behind the wheel while fatigued. Finally, in 2013, after a series of heated legal battles with multiple trucking industry groups, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that new rules reducing the hours that truck drivers could work during a given week were set to go into effect. Many experts believe that these rules, which have been in effect for nearly one year, have played a key role in preventing serious truck accidents. Nevertheless, some in Congress are considering a move to suspend the new rules to allow for further study.
At the heart of the current controversy is the requirement that truck drivers work no more than 70 hours in any given week. Under the previous rules, truck drivers were allowed to work for up to 82 hours per week.
Initially, trucking companies complained that the reduction in work hours would cause problems with delivery schedules and would cost a great deal of money. Some have said, too, that the new 70 hour requirement makes it necessary for more trucks to take to the road during daylight hours, when highways are most congested. In addition, many in the industry have expressed doubt that truck driver fatigue is as serious an issue as federal regulators believe and have said that the new rules do little to prevent the occurrence of truck accidents.
The current proposal in Congress, sponsored by Susan Collins, a Republican Senator from Maine, is intended to provide the U.S. Department of Transportation an opportunity to address whether the regulatory changes have had their intended effect. Critics of the proposal say, however, that it is nothing more than an attempt by interested parties in the trucking industry to revisit the issue of hours of service regulation. It remains unclear whether this proposal, which is an amendment to a larger transportation spending bill before the Senate, is likely to pass.
The reality is that no matter the cause, truck accidents can cause significant, debilitating injuries. If you have been injured in a truck accident, schedule a meeting with an experienced personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney can provide you with legal advice tailored to your situation and can help you decide on what to do next. For more information about how a personal injury can help you and your family, do not delay: meet with an attorney today.