Our Big Rig Accident Lawyers Keep an Eye on the Industry
Trucks are the backbone of America’s freight industry. The trucking industry is also the largest employer in 29 out of 50 states, providing employment to 3.5 million professional truckers and 5.2 million other workers. This is not counting millions of other people who depend on the trucking industry for livelihood. Therefore, any changes in truck industry regulations will impact the livelihood of a large number of people as well as the health of the industry.
In light of the fact that these huge vehicles are a danger to public safety (nearly 4,000 people were killed and another 100,000 were injured in accidents involving trucks in 2014, according to NHTSA), the FMCSA has been tightening the rules. The first major changes in recent years came in 2010 and the second in 2016. As can be expected, not everyone is happy. If you want to learn about the new rules and their implications on your truck accident claims, get in touch with experienced big rig accident lawyers.
The question is, “Do truck industry regulations need any improvement?” To answer this question, let’s examine two of the most contentious issues.
1. Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA)
The CSA has been a contentious issue since its introduction in December 2010. CSA is an initiative designed to help identify trucking companies that aren’t complying with federal safety rules. It uses a process called Safety Measurement System (SMS) to identify trucking companies that need FMCSA intervention.
Using data collected from state crash reports, federal motor carrier census and roadside inspection, the SMS assigns points for deficiencies in 7 areas, known as Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), that include unsafe driving, fatigued drivers (including hours-of-service violations), driver fitness, controlled substances/alcohol, vehicle maintenance, cargo-related issues, and crash indicator.
The higher the BASICs score, the worse the carrier’s performance. If a carrier’s score is higher than the threshold for that BASIC, then it means the time is ripe for investigation.
The problem is that many shippers view it as a safety rating system, which it is not. Naturally, carriers are not happy about it. Another problem is that it is not an absolute measure of a carrier’s performance, but rather a reflection of a carrier’s performance in comparison with other carriers.
Considering that there are a lot of grumblings about CSA among both carriers and shippers, it can be said that it is in dire need of improvement.
2. Hours of Service (HOS)
The current version of Hours of Safety (HOS) rules, which were introduced in 2011 and took effect in February 2012, states that a driver may not be on duty for more than 70 hours in an 8-day period, that a driver must take a break of at least 30 minutes after driving for eight hours, and that a driver must go off duty for at least 34 hours once he has worked the maximum number of hours allowed in a week.
A small addition was made in 2016 to the HOS rule regarding the restart period. It states that the restart period must include two periods that run from 1am to 5am. FMCSA has also been considering reducing the maximum number of hours a truck driver may drive per day from 11 hours to 10 hours.
What some people are not happy about is that drivers may not always be able to accommodate the 1am to 5am time span in 34 hours. For example, if a night shift driver signs off at 11pm on Friday and goes home for his for his mandatory 34-hour break, he will have to stay off duty for at least 42 hours to fulfill the 1am to 5 am requirement.
Also, the current restart period has been known to cause problems for shippers whose customers insist on receiving their freight in the morning. Obviously, trucking companies are also not happy because this means reduced productivity. In light of this, the HOS rules do need some improvement.
It is clear that the two rules discussed above need to be amended to address the concerns of the trucking industry. But in general, everyone agrees that stringent regulations are necessary to make America’s roads safer and the FMCSA has done a great job. Nevertheless, there will continue to be improvements in the truck industry regulations to reflect the changing needs of the time.
Contact big rig accident lawyers to learn more about truck industry regulations and their implications on your truck accident claims.