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Proposed Regulation Aiming to Reduce Truck Accidents Resisted by Industry

Published May 22, 2012

In December of 2010 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed new regulations for the amount of hours truck drivers can work without taking a break. The new regulations "are based on an exhaustive scientific review," according to the FMCSA website. The goals of the new regulations are to prevent fatalities from driver fatigue, a leading cause of accidents involving trucks, and to promote the health and safety of truck drivers generally.

Trucking companies are greeting the proposed regulations with some hostility. The FMCSA allowed comments from the public on the proposal until early March. The American Trucking Association (ATA) took the opportunity to weigh in, pointing to historically low fatality rates as proof current regulations are working. Safety regulations have existed in their current form since 2004. Since then truck accidents have gone down nearly every year for both light and large trucks, despite the fact more trucks than ever are on the roads. The ATA also suggested the new proposed regulations are overly complicated and would be difficult and costly to institute.

With backing from the trucking industry, 122 representatives and 23 senators recently wrote to the FMCSA asking that the proposed rules be abandoned. Currently the regulations are still being considered. If enforced, the new rules would go into effect this July and apply to most commercial vehicles.

Truck Accidents Account for Nearly Half of All Traffic Fatalities

Large semi-tractor trailer trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, making accidents involving trucks more likely to involve fatalities or catastrophic injury. In 2009 21,117 deaths involved either a light or large truck, making up almost half of all U.S. fatalities that occurred from traffic accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Truck drivers must obey federal regulations and are penalized if in violation. In addition, commercial trucking companies are responsible for overseeing that drivers obey federal regulations when it comes to breaks and consecutive hours worked. If a driver or company violates federal regulations and fatally injures somebody, they could be held liable for wrongful death.

If you have been injured in a truck accident and have questions regarding the truck driver's actions, contact an attorney.

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