Safety Delayed is Safety Denied

July 19th, 2016 by Attorney Julie Butcher

Two proposals for federal regulations of commercial trucks are being delayed. They both could make Kentucky roadways safer by limiting the speeds of commercial trucks and better monitoring commercial truck drivers who have failed drug and alcohol tests or been cited for driving under the influence.

The projected publication dates of these two trucking regulations were announced by the federal Department of Transportation (DOT), reports Trucker’s News

  • The agency removed the projected publication date from the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requiring speed limiters (or governors) on heavy trucks. DOT has given a much more vague “Spring 2016” projected publication date, while in the past it was supposed to be April 28.
  • A Final Rule implementing the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is expected to be sent to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget on May 6 and published on August 16. Its publishing date was previously expected to be July 28.

This publication is a step in the process that could result in a proposed regulation going into effect. A federal agency proposes a regulation, publishes it for public comments, considers those comments, may or may not change the proposal as a result, then issue a final, binding rule.

It hasn’t been made public what speed trucks would be limited to, but just the idea of a commercial truck’s being electronically limited has critics in the trucking industry. Some claim it will result in traffic backups because trucks will find it difficult or impossible to pass other vehicles. This could create “rolling roadblocks” of trucks clustered together and stuck going the same speed.

Supporters claim that lower truck speeds will result in fewer accidents, injuries and deaths. Heavy Duty Trucking reports the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec required governors for heavy trucks in 2009. That year large truck fatalities in Ontario dropped by 24% compared to 2008, while the number of large trucks registered in the province increased 59%.

The other possible regulation would create a database of commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders that have failed or refused a drug test or been cited for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Carriers would be required to upload this information to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at least once a year.

Carriers would also need to check the database when hiring drivers. Independent owner-operators would also be required to disclose drug test and citation information. This information clearinghouse is required by federal highway funding legislation, according to Overdrive. A driver would need to consent to a party’s accessing his or her information on the database, and there would be an appeals process if the driver believed false information was contained in it.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a commercial truck in Kentucky, call the Julie Butcher Law Office at 859-233-3641 or fill out our contact form to talk about your case, applicable laws and your legal options.