Federal Government Undermining Texas Road Safety

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Thanks to trucking industry lobbyists, profits are winning over the safety of Texas drivers in the nation’s capital.

Trucking lobbyists are hurting Texas drivers. The pleas from the families of those seriously injured in truck accidents are nowhere near as loud as the whispers of trucking industry lobbyists into the ears of too many legislators. The pleas call for stricter laws and tougher penalties for truck drivers and trucking companies that break current laws and injure innocent people.

So far trucking lobbyists have been successful in finding backdoor ways to weaken existing laws and prevent the passing of better safety laws.

Increasing Driver Time on the Road

There are laws in place that limit the number of hours a trucker is permitted to drive in a given time and how often a truck driver must take breaks and rest. In 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sought to add additional restrictions to the rest period by requiring that drivers include two nights in their rest period and preventing them from driving between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. those two nights. This new proposed restriction was based on research that showed that humans get the best sleep at night during this period.

Because this proposed rule decreased the maximum number of hours that truck drivers could work from 82 hours a week to 70, trucking lobbyists took to Capitol Hill to get it stopped. After an initial failed attempt, a provision was ultimately added that prevented the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from spending any money to enforce their new restrictions.

The provision was added at the last minute to the spending bill that was passed to prevent the federal government from shutting down.

Increasing the Size of the Trucks

To increase profit, trucking companies have pushed to increase the permissible size of the load when pulling two trailers. Previously, the law in relation to double trailers had been that each of the trailers could be no more than 28-feet long – even though these double trailer loads had an 11 percent higher fatality crash rate.

In the end, trucking lobbyists were able to get a new provision added and approved in the 2016 transportation spending bill which allows tractors to haul two trailers of 33-feet in length each. This provision was added to the bill just two weeks before the Department of Transportation released its study recommending that these larger trucks should not be allowed because of safety issues. Regardless of the study results, the provision was still signed into law.

These are just two of the many items that the trucking industry has managed to get passed into law that undermine the safety of other drivers on the road. This trend should concern all drivers. Here’s a story from Illinois that perfectly illustrates safety issues related to trucks on the road.

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If you have been injured or lost a loved one as a result of a commercial truck crash, contact The Callahan Law Firm today for a free case evaluation.