According to a recent New York Times op-ed article, trucks are killing us. Howard Abramson, the writer of the Times piece, pointed out that if current trends continue, more people will be killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks this year than have died in all domestic commercial airline crashes over the past 45 years.
What can be done about this? Congress should act.
Unfortunately, Congress appears to be moving in the wrong direction. In recent months, Congress has pursued a number of avenues that would seem to move away from safety improvements ordered by federal regulators. It seeks to do things such as allowing truck drivers to work 82 hours a week, as opposed to current requirements that workers only be allowed to work 70 hours over eight days. They are discouraging the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from investing in certain technologies that may improve the monitoring of drivers and their vehicles. It also seeks to lower the minimum age (from 21 to 18 years old) for drivers of large trucks who are allowed to travel from state to state.
Why? The only conclusion to be drawn is these efforts are being made because it is what the trucking industry and their lobbies are pushing for.
The trucking industry claims that stricter safety standards will cost more money, which will make it more expensive to transport freight, which ultimately will be passed to the consumer—making your goods more expensive. But according to this article, trucking generates more than $700 billion a year in revenue. Yes, that’s billion-with-a-B, folks—all told, the better part of a trillion dollars. This suggests to us that a small increase in safety costs would not put a large financial dent on the industry.
Trucking industry spokesmen also say that longer work weeks will result in fewer trucks on the road, which will result in fewer accidents. This makes little sense when you consider that overworked and drowsy truck drivers are often the greatest menaces on our highway, as we saw demonstrated in the Tracy Morgan trucking accident.
Let’s hope that Congress has the courage to pass a comprehensive highway funding bill that will strengthen the hand of safety regulators to prevent an increase in trucking deaths—or, even better, to decrease truck accidents.
More to come on what Congress could do to help.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a trucking accident, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841.