Texas Trucking Accident Risks Increase with Deregulation
Texas motorists will likely face an increased risk of tractor-trailer accidents, after a series of moves in Washington to sideline rules aimed at improving the safety of truck and train transport.
USAToday is reporting the Trump Administration is moving to roll back regulations across the government, including rules aimed at speeding truckers.
Truck Safety Rules Delayed, Repealed
Recent safety rules that have been delayed or repealed include:
- A requirement for states to conduct annual inspections of commercial bus operators.
- Future vehicle-to-vehicle collision-avoidance technology for light trucks and cars.
- Additional staffing requirements for train operators.
A 2016 rule proposed by the Department of Transportation would have required speed-limiters for large trucks. That proposal has been moved from active rule-making to the agency's long-term agenda. The American Trucking Association is taking credit for stalling the rule.
Speed-Limiters for Large Commercial Trucks
Safety advocates had been pushing for speed-limiters for a decade before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration jointly proposed a rule last year that would have required the speed-limiting devices for heavy-duty commercial vehicles.
Those opposed to the new rule argue such technology is already available in most newer trucks and that increasing the speed disparity between trucks and cars could lead to an increase in the number of traffic collisions such a rule is meant to reduce.
In Ontario, where many trucks are limited to 65 miles per hour, the measure is being blamed for increased road congestion, as one truck attempts to pass another while traveling just a few miles per hour faster. The opposition also points to statistics from the FMCSA, which show that about 80 percent of large truck crashes occur at speeds of less than 65 miles per hour.
But the truth is the government has a long history of failure when it comes to instituting basic common-sense safety measures that would significantly improve safety for all motorists on the road. Electronic data recorders could make obsolete the notoriously fraudulent process of hand-written log books to track hours-of-service compliance meant to keep tired truckers from driving. The Trump Administration gave truckers another six months to comply but those rules are scheduled to finally take effect April 1 nationwide. However, Texas has given truckers until December 2019 to comply.
Updated rules for rear-guards and requiring side-guards are additional important safety measures that have not been initiated, despite the fact that most developed countries already have such rules in place.
Implementation of a nationwide database to track truckers is another aim of safety advocates that has been ignored for years. Too often dangerous and unsafe truckers can simply go down the road, or to the next state, and quickly resume work even after being fired for a poor safety record or failed drug test.
Lobbying is nothing new in Washington. Too seldom is it that lawmakers work for the good of the general public. But when it comes to regulating the nation's freight companies, failure to enact basic safety rules has a negative impact on everyone forced to share the road with these vehicles.
In the event of a truck crash, you should seek the legal advocacy of an experienced El Paso truck accident attorney at the Law Offices of Michael J. Gopin, PLLC.