As a truck accident attorney, we must know truck safety regulations. As reported in FairWarning, the nonprofit investigative news organization based in Los Angeles, truck accidents kill nearly 4,000 Americans each year and injure more than 85,000. Since 2009, fatalities involving large truck collisions have increased 17 percent. Injuries have gone up 28 percent. Given these numbers, you might expect Congress to be agitating for tighter controls on big rigs. In fact, many members are pushing for the opposite – looser restrictions on the trucking industry and its drivers.
The proposals represent a wish list of the trucking industry, including allowing significantly longer and heavier trucks, and younger drivers. The industry spends heavily on lobbying and campaign contributions, giving largely to Republicans, who control both the House and Senate.
Supporters insist the proposals actually will improve public safety by cutting the number of trucks on the road while also helping the trucking industry address a shortage of drivers. But critics reject the safety claims as ridiculous, saying the proposals would enrich the trucking industry, not protect the public.
Truck safety advocates are dismayed over the industry’s efforts to use Congress to achieve dangerous policy changes:
• Allow trucks nationwide to haul two 33-foot trailers, up from a current limit of 28 feet. That’s the equivalent of an eight-story building turned on its side and rumbling down the highway.
• Raise the top weight of big rigs, including cargo, from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds.
• Give states the ability to lower the minimum age of 21 for interstate truck drivers, putting drivers as young as 18 behind the wheel.
• Effectively eliminate a requirement that truckers who work long weeks spend two consecutive nights resting before heading back out.
• Halt efforts to revise 30-year-old minimum requirements for insurance for big rigs.
• Remove safety ratings of trucking firms from the Internet, where they are now available for public inspection.
It’s unclear if all, or any, of the proposals will be approved, but several have passed out of the House or Senate as parts of larger appropriations or authorization bills. Since the beginning of 2009, trucking interests have spent more than $19.6 million on campaign contributions to members of Congress, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Trucking interests also spent more than $181 million on lobbying over that period.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the branch of the Transportation Department that regulates truck safety, declined to comment on the proposals before Congress.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin attorneys at McCormick Law Office get the best results in truck accident cases by discovering driver’s log books, cell phone records and vehicle maintenance records.