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Tuck accidents: truck safety slowing down

The U.S. Department of Transportation is delaying measures aimed at preventing truck accidents. Once again, it put a hold on regulations mandating training requirements for large truck and bus drivers even though Congress has requested these regulations for at least 26 years. This inaction has the potential to affect all motorists in North Carolina and nationwide.

There is an obvious problem that needs addressed. There was a 20 percent increase in fatal accidents involving trucks or buses from 2009 through 2015. Over 4,000 fatalities and 100,000 injuries, on average, were also attributed to large truck accidents each year. Crashes involving commercial vehicles cost more than $110 billion annually.

In addition to Congress, public advocacy groups and the families of truck accident victims advocated for these rules for at least 20 years. Standards for commercial driver's licenses were published last December and included classroom driving instruction on driving, handling emergencies and trip planning. These standards were delayed twice and will be on hold until at least June 5.

If enacted, the regulation would provide a grace period until February 2020 and would cover applicants who do not have their commercial driver's license by February 7, 2020. The regulation would exempt firefighter, military drivers and farmers. These rules were already weakened to eliminate a minimum 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training.

Safety organizations requested reconsideration of the final rule because it does not require this training. They pointed out that many states require on-the-job experience for occupations such as plumbers and barbers.

The American Trucking Association, representing trucking companies and not drivers, spent approximately $1.8 million on lobbying the federal government in 2016. It opposes a time-on-the-road requirement and argued that showing proficiency is more important than the number of hours of driving.

This delay in addressing driver training and the frequency of other safety issues such as truck driver fatigue pose risks to motorists. An attorney can assist victims of trucking accidents and their families seek compensation for injuries and losses in these accidents.

Source: The National Memo, "Transportation Department puts the brakes on truck safety," Sarah Okeson, May 28, 2017

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