As a new Congress begins work in the Capitol, advocates for trucking regulation are hoping it will be more receptive to their pleas for new laws. After failing to establish new regulations through two previous presidential administrations, safety advocates are now taking their wishes straight to U.S. Congress.
Road Safe America and the Truck Safety Coalition are attempting to convince lawmakers that the truck industry is in serious need of reform. These two groups are using statistics to make a case that all heavy trucks should have speed limiters and automatic emergency braking (AEB).
Truck Safety: Where We Are Now
Last month, Arnold & Itkin explored the lack of progress made by regulators that oversee the trucking industry. Safety lobbyists have been frustrated with a pattern of regulators doing investigations, creating recommended rules, and then failing to meet their deadlines to make these rules into actual regulations.
In a comment to FreightWaves, Road Safe America president Steve Owings said, “We’re very dissatisfied from what we’ve gotten from DOT [the U.S. Department of Transportation] in the last 12 years, so we’re hoping Congress, or even President Trump himself, will get this thing done.” Owings continued, “Certainly an infrastructure bill could be a good vehicle for this. But since 2006 we’ve been through Republican and Democratic administrations [that have] overseen a rulemaking [process] that has been stuck in limbo at the Department of Transportation, so we also think the president could just ask DOT why they haven’t done this yet and tell them go do it.”
Both organizations believe their actions have the potential to save lives in the industry and outside of it. So, they've sent letters to every member of the House and Senate. These letters emphasized how the United States lag behind nations such as Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany when it comes to requiring safety equipment in trucks. The groups are also arguing that these devices will reduce accidents that cause traffic, saving economic loss caused by inefficiency. Their implementation into the law would have economic benefits due to reduced traffic and fewer transportation delays.
What Industry Groups Are Saying
The Trucking Alliance, a group that represents various large transportation companies, supports the use of limiters on trucks. However, it has refrained from commenting on specific legislation until an actual bill is available to endorse. The American Trucking Association offered further support, and the Owner-Operated Independent Drivers Association have said they would support speed limiters only if a nationwide speed limit of 65 mph was introduced for all vehicles.
The future of trucking regulation is uncertain, but one thing is known for sure: lives might be saved if new laws are passed. Families around the nation are still wondering when the lives of their loved ones will be enough for the government to try new regulations.