The trucking industry has always had a difficult time with regulatory agencies. Though trucking is a $700 billion industry, companies only make about $.06 net profit for every dollar—and that’s in a good year. Increasing accountability and safety measures (like those mentioned below) initially cost money, leading to complaints about short-term losses.
Here’s the bottom line: Truck crashes harm the industry’s drivers and place other people on the road at significant risk of injury or death.
According to the National Highway Trafic Safety Administration, the following was true for truck accidents in 2017:
- More than 136,000 people suffered injuries in large truck accidents
- Large trucks accounted for 9 percent of all fatal traffic accidents
- 72% of people killed in truck accidents were occupants of other vehicles
- 18% of fatalities were occupants of large trucks
- 10% of fatalities were pedestrians or other non-occupants
- Between 2016 and 2017, trucking fatalities increased by 9 percent
The data above reveals that truck safety is important for everyone. The nation needs trucks, and it needs them to be safe. Yet, focused lobbying has made truck drivers believe
Taking Steps Toward a Better Future
At Arnold & Itkin, we believe is it crucial that better regulations are passed to protect our nation's drivers. Therefore, we support all efforts to make this happen. Unfortunately, lobbyists for trucking companies are trying to undo safety measures while adding new allowances that would make trucks even more dangerous. We oppose the efforts of the trucking industry to rollback safety changes all for the sake of personal profit.
Some issues that should be addressed include the following:
Truck Size & Weight: Currently, trucking companies are pressing for laws that would allow them to drive heavier, larger trucks. They would be able to transport goods with fewer trips, which would save money. However, profit should not take precedence over safety. The larger a truck and the heavier its cargo, the more potentially dangerous it is.
Hours-of-Service (HOS): It is no surprise that fatigued truckers are one of the most prevalent dangers on the road today. To help combat this issue, hours-of-service regulations have passed that limit the number of hours drivers can work. While efforts have been made to reduce these regulations, research shows that they’re important for protecting drivers, no matter how inconvenient they might seem.
Electronic Logging Devices (ELD): Currently, hours-of-service are monitored by logbooks that are maintained by the drivers themselves. Unfortunately, these logbooks are easily forged. ELDs would automatically log data on how long trucks are driven, location, and more—making enforcement automatic. In 2020, a new mandate made ELDs required in more trucks.
Insurance Levels for Motor Carriers: Currently, trucks are only required to carry minimum insurance levels of $750,000 and $5 million on motor coaches. These numbers have not been updated in more than 30 years and are insufficient for the cost of most accidents. Many safety advocates are pushing for truck insurance reform that will protect other drivers, truckers, and the industry as a whole.
Rear & Side Underride Safety Standards: Underride accidents are one of the deadliest types of truck accidents. To help prevent them, underride guards can be used; however, recent studies found them to be completely ineffective in many cases. However, some researchers suggest that better regulation for underride bars could significantly reduce fatal trucking accidents.
Reducing Speed Limits: Studies have shown that when truckers are moving at 55 mph or faster, the likelihood of an accident—especially a jackknife or a rollover—significantly increases. Beyond that, the force of impact from a speeding truck can be twice as much between 65 and 55 mph. To encourage drivers to take things slower, safety advocates are proposing speed limiters. The purpose of these limiters is to prevent trucks from traveling at speeds that significantly increase the likelihood of deadly accidents.
Automatic Braking Sytems: The New Gold Standard for Trucking Safety?
Automatic emergency braking systems (AEB) are being regarded as one of the most important pieces of safety equipment a truck can have in the modern era. Trucks with AEB systems are in 12% fewer accidents, have a 41% reduction in rear-end collisions. While required in Europe since 2013, regulators in the United States have failed to make these important systems a requirement for all trucks.
Changes Coming to the Trucking Industry
The Department of Transportation has slowly added regulations to the trucking industry since 2012, changing Hours-of-Service and requiring a new electronic logbook system. The electronic logbook will prevent truckers from fraudulently recording their hours and cheating HOS regulations.
The Safety Administration believes that the electronic logbook will save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries annually. Trucking companies believe that the extra costs will hurt the industry, which is a critical marker of economic growth. Since growth has slowed since 2012, this is a valid concern—though nowhere near as important as the lives of drivers.
Thankfully, while these safety measures may cost the trucking industry some profits upfront, the switch to electronic recordkeeping will save companies over a billion dollars in paperwork. Though we should not have to convince anyone of the benefits of safety measures, the fact is these measures would provide technological updates to an industry still relying on a paper-based filing system. In the long-term, there are no losers with increased safety.
If you’ve been involved in a preventable accident, call our truck accident lawyers today at (888) 490-0442 for a free consultation.