Each year, approximately 4,000 Americans lose their lives due to accidents with big rigs. An additional 85,000 are injured. Since 2009, the number of fatalities involving large truck accidents has risen a disturbing 17 percent, while injuries have risen an alarming 28 percent. As the number of trucking accidents continues to rise, lobbyists have been pushing for more relaxed trucking laws.
While the trucking industry’s wish list included allowing drivers who are under the age of 21, significantly longer and heavier trucks, and more allowable drive time, truck safety advocates claimed that the proposals were simply the trucking industry’s attempts to use Congress to achieve more dangerous policies. According to Nashville truck wreck attorney Henry Queener, “Many truck accidents are due to the lack of driver training, overloaded trucks, and fatigued drivers. These proposals would have increased the risk for all three.”
FAST Act: The Final Bill
The first week of December, the proposals above were finally omitted from the FAST Act, which is the first long-term transportation bill passed by Congress in more than a decade. Instead, the more than 1,300-page document contains other, more safety conscious regulations for the trucking industry.
- CSA Reform: The bulk of the information currently reported by the Compliance, Safety, Accountability system’s Safety Measurement System will no longer be viewable to the general public until the government is able to evaluate and fix the issues at hand.
- Drug Testing Reform: Employers will now be able to perform hair tests in lieu of urine tests once guidelines are established.
- Detention Time: The FMCSA will study and report on the impact of shipping and receiving delays.
- Insurance: The FMCSA will also study liability insurance minimums. Currently, carriers are required to hold $750,000 in liability insurance.