The American Association for Justice (AAJ) has submitted comments in response to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) advance notice of proposed rulemaking for hours-of-service (HOS) for commercial truck drivers. The rulemaking process was first announced at the end of August 2018, when the FMCSA declared that they would be reviewing the existing HOS regulations which limit the total operating hours a commercial truck driver works on duty.

The FMCSA announced that four specific areas of the regulations would be “under consideration for revision.” Read more

According to the U.S. federal government statistics, over 4,300 people have been killed in crashes involving tractor-trailers and other large trucks in 2016, which is a 28 percent increase over 2009. Fatal truck crashes are growing at almost three times the rate of deadly crashes overall in the U.S. For years, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has supported life-saving legislation that would require all heavy trucks to be equipped with crash-avoidance technology.

Specifically, the NTSB has demanded that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal regulatory agency responsible for protecting people from danger on U.S. roadways, to take action to prevent trucks from rear-ending other vehicles. On at least 10 occasions since the late 1990s, the NTSB has recommended that the NHTSA require forward crash avoidance and mitigation systems on all heavy trucks.

Two decades after the safety board first made their recommendation, NHTSA still has yet to publish a proposed regulation, much less implement one.

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A new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report found that truck safety technologies can prevent as many as 77,077 crashes, 23,275 injuries, and the loss of 500 lives per year. The report, Leveraging Large Truck Technology and Engineering to Realize Safety Gains, examined the safety benefits and costs of installing four advanced safety technologies in existing and new large trucks.

In 2015, large trucks were involved in more than 400,000 crashes that resulted in more than 4,000 deaths and 116,000 injuries.

AAA Report Illustrates Potential Impact of Individual Safety Technologies

AAA recommends that all large trucks – those already on the road as well as new trucks – be equipped with cost effective technologies that improve safety on the road.

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September 9-15, 2018 is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, according to the American Trucking Association (AMA). This week-long commemoration is held every September, and was selected to honor professional truck drivers for all their hard work and commitment assisting American businesses across the country. According to the AMA, there are approximately 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S., all of whom are working diligently to deliver products safely, securely, and on time across our nation.

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Federal Motor Carrier Safety AdministrationOn August 21, 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) announced that it has commenced a rulemaking process that is aimed at reforming specific areas of the current hours-of-service regulation. The hours-of-service (HOS) regulation was enacted to limit the total operating hours a commercial truck driver works on duty. The FMCSA will be examining four areas of the existing regulation. Once decided, the new rules, will be published as an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The four specific areas “under consideration for revision” by the agency include:

  • Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on-duty to 14 hours on-duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers;
  • Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to 2 hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions;
  • Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after 8 hours of continuous driving; and
  • Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment.

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A USA Today investigation has shown that port trucking companies frequently put out “hundreds of impaired drivers on the road” who are driving with little to no sleep. This is in clear violation of federal safety regulations, and puts thousands of fellow drivers at risk every day.

Technically, there is currently no accurate tracking system available to track commercial truck movements nationwide. USA Today instead worked with publicly available information to build a tracking system after the fact.

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Two U.S. senators have introduced a bipartisan bill which aims to change and improve truck safety standards. The goal is to prevent the often deadly crashes which occur when a car slams under a tractor trailer in a collision. With the bill, trucks would be required to be equipped with underride guards.

These side guards are safety devices which cover the exposed space between the undercarriage of a tractor trailer and the road below. By equipping trucks with side guards, it will prevent cars from sliding under trucks in a collision and increasing the likelihood of an already dangerous crashing turning even deadlier.

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Due in part to concerns about potential implementation of conflicting state rules governing automated and connected trucks, the American Trucking Association (ATA) recently endorsed its first comprehensive policy on automated trucks and related emerging technologies. The ATA’s new policy discusses safety, the respective roles of the federal and state governments, uniformity across state lines, infrastructure, and education.

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Trucking companies are not always notified when a driver is arrested for drugs.

For example, recently, a truck driver was arrested after police found him unconscious in his rig. He admitted that he had used heroin. Because he was not in the cab with the keys in the ignition, he was not charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Although he was charged with disorderly conduct while intoxicated, the trucking company that employed him was not informed of the charge, nor was the state that issued his commercial driver’s license.

Ten days later, he renewed his CDL. A couple of weeks after that, he jackknifed his rig, after overdosing on heroin. Emergency workers used naloxone to revive him.

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A USA Today Network investigation revealed that some port trucking companies have used legal loopholes, shell companies, and bankruptcies to escape judgments by labor court judges. The ongoing investigation reveals that some port trucking companies serving top retailers use such tactics to take advantage of drivers.

The investigation examined California labor commissioner and court cases filed by more than 1,100 port truck drivers. Of the almost 60 companies found to have violated the law, at least 12 have avoided the judgments against them by shifting assets into new business names. Some delayed paying and filed for bankruptcy protection or pressured drivers to accept settlements.

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