ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A war is being waged across the nation over big rig regulations and standards. Members of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are pushing for new safety regulations and guidelines for big truck drivers to follow. At the same time, truck drivers and their advocates are arguing against the safety measures.
In one battle, federal lawmakers are mulling a proposal that would require electronic ‘speed limiters’ in large trucks. The technology would force all large truck drivers to travel no faster than 65 miles per hour. A group claiming to represent the interests of professional truck drivers, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), drafted their own petition in the hopes of preventing speed limiters from becoming reality.
Rochester truck accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes said truck safety is a hot topic because of increase in the number of crashes.
“Car accidents have been steadily dropping across American cities like Rochester,” truck accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “Truck accidents, on the other hand, have been slowly increasing since 2010.”
Experts believe the increase in truck crashes is a direct correlation with increased truck traffic. During the economic recession, companies cut-back on trucking and shipping routes but in the last five years, trucking has made a comeback.
In 2012, more than 77,000 trucks were involved in injury crashes, the most since 2006.
“Trucks can be very dangerous vehicles,” Cellino said. “Some of these trucks can weigh over 70,000 pounds – more than 20 times the weight of your typical car.”
Truck drivers are already required to abide by a variety of rules and regulations set forth by the federal government. One of the most notable regulates the number of hours a driver can operate a vehicle in a certain stretch of time. Some of these regulations were temporarily suspended in 2014.
Last year, a truck accident injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another comedian on the New Jersey Turnpike, raising questions about truck safety. This month, the National Transportation Safety Board revealed they had discovered the truck driver who caused the crash had been awake for 28 hours before the crash.
“Rest is vital for any driver,” Cellino said. “Whether you’re riding on a 400-pound motorcycle or operating a 40-ton big rig, rest is important for your safety and the safety of others.”
The American Trucking Association has concluded that hours of service regulations should be in place but the amount of time drivers are on-the-clock and off-the-clock is a hotly-contested subject.
Members of Congress expect to debate truck safety while drafting its 2015 Highway Bill after its August recess.