Safety experts have long recognized that fatigue is a factor in a significant number of truck accidents throughout the U.S. Just last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration instituted new rules intended to ensure that interstate truck drivers get enough rest before they get behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle. While initial studies indicate that these new hours of service regulations appear to be working, some safety experts have suggested that regulatory action is simply not enough. Indeed, according to one recent proposal, new technology may be the best way to address the problem of fatigue among truck drivers.
Unfortunately, in many truck and bus crashes, accident investigators discover that drivers have exceeded the hours of service limits mandated by federal rules. Although drivers and trucking companies alike face serious penalties for violating these regulations, demanding deadlines and the promise of a large payday trump concerns about fines. In too many cases, investigators do not discover these rules violations until it is too late.
For this reason, the FMCSA recently proposed a rule that would require companies to install electronic devices in their vehicles that travel over state lines. These devices would track the number of hours that a vehicle is in service and would make it extremely difficult for drivers and companies to falsify hours reports. If this rule is implemented, the FMCSA estimates that it would prevent about 430 injuries and 20 deaths each year.
While the primary purpose of the proposal is to prevent accidents and to promote safety, there are additional benefits. For example, the agency pointed out that the use of these devices would save companies the hassle and expense of filing some paperwork. This could help carriers reduce their overall expenses.
Safety groups have been working for about two years to convince the FMCSA to enact a rule requiring these devices. Many large trucking companies already use this technology, which is required in vehicles in Europe and in many other countries. It remains unclear whether the measure will be approved, but several trade organizations – including the American Trucking Association – have said that they support the proposed rule.
Sadly, those who are involved in accidents with large commercial trucks are often seriously injured. Fortunately, in some cases, those who are injured in these sorts of accidents may be entitled to compensation for their medical bills and more. For more information, schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney today.