Dangerous Changes For Trucking Industry

Dangerous Changes For Trucking Industry Still Under Consideration By Congress

On July 30, the senate passed a transportation bill that included major changes for the trucking industry that many highway safety advocates say pose a danger to the traveling public. Before the bill could be approved by the house, the house had already left for their summer recess. That means that the proposed changes for the trucking industry will still be on the table when the bill is considered before a three-month stopgap funding bill expires at the end of October.

The transportation bill’s changes to trucking industry regulations that highway safety advocates consider to be dangerous include:

  • A provision that would force the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to hide the safety ratings of trucking companies from the public. If passed, this provision would prevent shippers from accessing and considering the safety ratings of a trucking company they might wish to hire. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), large-truck drivers in 2013 had the highest percentage (15%) of previously recorded crashes compared to drivers of other vehicle types.
  • A provision that would lower the legal age limit to hold a commercial driver’s license for interstate truck drivers from 21 to 18. According to National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, 18-20 year old drivers have a fatal crash rate that is 66 percent higher than that of drivers over the age of 21.
  • A provision that would change the maximum length of double trailers from 28 feet to 33 feet and would force states that currently ban longer double trailers within their borders to accept the new federal lengths. Safety advocates fear that the wider turning radius and longer length of these double trailers will lead to more collisions.

These proposed changes come on top of the new rules enacted by congress last January that overturned the driving time limits and rest requirements for truckers that had been put in place by the FMCSA in 2013. The trucker responsible for the crash that disabled comedian Tracy Morgan and killed one of his friends had been awake for 28 hours before the crash.

According to NHTSA, there were 3,906 trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2013. Of the 3,964 people killed in those crashes, 71 percent were occupants of other vehicles. In 2013, there were approximately 95,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks.

If you agree with the safety advocates that these changes go too far and pose a danger to the traveling public, you can let your congressional representatives know. To find contact information for your congressional representatives, visit: Find Your Senators and Representatives