In the late Fall of 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck down the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (“FMCSA”) rule requiring motor carriers with the most flagrant hours of service (“HOS”) violations to install electronic on-board recorders (“EOBRs”) to monitor HOS compliance. Sounds reasonable, right? The most flagrant HOS violators have 40% higher crash rate than the general motor carrier population, so something needed to be done, right? Nope. Not according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (“OOIDA”), another powerful trucking industry lobbying group that represents the interests of motor carriers with the most flagrant HOS violations. So, what did OOIDA do? In pursuit of justice for the most flagrant HOS violators, it filed a lawsuit on their behalf to defeat the rule… and it won.
In late December 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) issued new rules that are a step in the right direction, but not the leap that was and is necessary to keep our roadways safe. The new rules include a shorter work week for commercial drivers and a required 30-minute rest break after eight hours on duty. Unfortunately, the agency failed to reverse the dangerous change made in 2003, when the Bush administration’s “profits over people” policy increased the time that drivers could be behind the wheel each day to 11 hours. For nearly 70 years, the limit had been 10 hours.
The reality and dangers of rear-end crashes involving commercial vehicles surfaced this morning when I, like many other commuters, was stopped in traffic on northbound Interstate 95 in Lawrence Township as a result of a fatal, rear-end collision involving a tractor-trailer and two vehicles.