Across America, accidents involving large commercial trucks result in significant financial, physical, and emotional harm. This harm is suffered not just by victims and their families, but also by society as a whole when absorbing the costs that can be attributed accidents. Preventing or reducing the number of these accidents requires the cooperation of the major bodies involved, including the trucking industry and Congress. According to a recent opinion piece in theNew York Times, however, neither group is taking sufficient action.
How Congress and the Trucking Industry Are Letting Us Down
According to theNew York Times article, “The Trucks Are Killing Us,” Congress has not taken action to prevent truck accidents, as outlined below:
- Congress pushed to allow truck drivers to work 82 hours per week by suspending a rule that all drivers take a 34-hour rest break over two nights in order to restart their workweek.
- Congress discouraged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from investing in wireless technology that would have improved its ability to monitor truck drivers and their vehicles.
- Congress has indicated a willingness to allow longer and heavier trucks on the roadways.
- Congress may lower the minimum age for drivers of large trucks who are permitted to cross state lines from the current age of 21 down to age 18.
Unfortunately, it is not just Congress that appears to be dropping the ball when it comes to improving safety and preventing truck accidents. The trucking industry itself has failed to take many possible steps to reduce the number of accidents that occur, including the following:
- Technology is available that could prevent or lessen the impact of crashes that occur as a result of a large truck rear-ending another vehicle that has stopped or slowed due to accidents or roadwork. The technology is available from all of the manufacturers of heavy trucks on this continent. Unfortunately, only three percent of the heaviest trucks are equipped with any version of the collision-avoidance technology.
- Additional safety technology is also readily available in the form of anti-lock brakes, electronic stability controls, air bags, and other collision-avoidance devices. This same technology is widely used across Europe. Unfortunately, the U.S. trucking industry has avoided using these technologies because of their added cost.
- The trucking industry, including the chief trade group, the American Trucking Associations, is pushing for longer work weeks and bigger vehicles. The industry claims that longer work weeks and heavier trucks are needed to reduce the number of trucks that are needed on the roadway at any given time.
- The trucking industry has made arguments against safety rule changes by claiming that these changes will increase costs, which will then hurt profits and raise rates for shippers. Ultimately, this means that the end cost of goods to consumers will increase.
If you were involved in an accident with a large truck, it is important to act quickly. We encourage you to contact Kaufman Law, P.C. today at (404) 355-4000 for more information about protecting your legal rights.