Major Concern for Trucking Industry Should Be Safety

April 14th, 2016 by Attorney Julie Butcher

In some ways, the trucking industry is like any other. It wants to maximize profits and minimize costs. It wants the transportation of cargo to go smoothly, quickly and cheaply, with as little interference as possible from regulators. The industry should understand that while policies and procedures that make for safe trucks and drivers may not be cheap, a truck involved in an accident can’t deliver its load on time and injuries or deaths caused by an accident can create tremendous costs.

The American Transportation Research Institute has released its Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry for 2015. It’s the result of a survey of more than 4,000 people within the trucking industry. They rank Hours-of-Service rules (the hours drivers can drive without taking breaks or time off) as the industry’s top concern.

The trucking industry claims significant economic impacts from the 34-hour restart provisions first implemented in 2013. Under these rules, a commercial truck driver may not drive after 60 to 70 hours on duty in seven or eight consecutive days, and a driver may restart a seven to eight consecutive-day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. Currently suspended, the rules state the driver’s down time would need to include two periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.

ATRI claims its research found 80% of motor carriers showed lost productivity due to these now-suspended rules, and driver pay impacts were estimated to be anywhere from $1.6 billion to $3.9 billion annually. Congress suspended the rules in December 2014, but the industry is voicing concern over their reinstatement pending FMCSA’s release of the results of its second field study (the first one showed the break times resulted in safer drivers).

Second among the industry’s concerns are the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s continued challenges with its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) programThe industry has a lot of problems with CSA, claiming:

  • Its safety measures, under which carriers and drivers are scored, are not an accurate predictor of carrier safety risk.
  • There are differences in how states collect and report safety performance data, and shippers may potentially misuse the data when choosing carriers to haul freight.
  • The use of CSA scores will be used as part of a Safety Fitness Determination proposed rulemaking.

Other issues of concern to the trucking industry are the growing shortage of truck drivers, driver retention, and the lack of available safe truck parking. Parking has risen as an industry concern over the years and was identified by ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee as the top research priority for 2015.

All of these issues impact safety for everyone on the road.

  • Overworked and fatigued drivers who don’t get enough rest are hazardous to themselves and others.
  • The CSA program is an attempt to make commercial trucking safer, which has value beyond dollars.
  • With a shortage of drivers, those who are working may be pressured to drive longer hours, and more inexperienced drivers will be on the roads.
  • An illegally parked truck can pose a safety risk to those driving around it.

The trucking industry has sought to be as free from government rules as possible, putting efficiency ahead of safety. If regulators can’t make the trucking industry safer, drivers and passengers in other vehicles will continue to pay the price as accidents continue to cause injuries and deaths.

If you or a family member has been injured in a truck accident in Kentucky, you can rely on the Julie Butcher Law Office, which has extensive experience handling the claims of those injured in commercial motor vehicle accidents. Call us at 859-233-3641 or fill out our contact form so we can talk about the circumstances of your case and how we might help your family obtain justice.