As far back as 2016, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) had proposed regulations for commercial trucks and other large vehicles that still haven’t taken effect. One of the big proposals was to put electronic speed limiters in every truck to help prevent truckers from driving too fast and losing control of their vehicles. However, the current administration has repealed, paused, or delayed many of these incoming regulations. As it stands, this means that there are less rules governing commercial trucks, giving trucking companies more leeway to practice dangerous habits. If you or a loved one was injured in a trucking accident, it is important to understand how trucking regulations may play into your case and what regulations are on hold. The Philadelphia truck accident victim lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm explain.
How Trucking Regulations Affect Truck Accident Injury Cases
If you were injured in an auto accident with a commercial truck or lost a loved one to a deadly truck accident, it can be difficult to move forward. In many cases, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit against the negligent truck driver and their employer, the trucking company. If the truck driver or the trucking company violated any of the dozens of federal trucking regulations, it may be easier to prove they were responsible for the injury.
Some trucking regulations commonly used in truck accident cases deal with the driver’s time on the road, truck weight, and driver health. For instance, there are Hours of Service rules that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) writes to prevent drivers from becoming too tired behind the wheel. If the driver drove for too long, their violation may have affected their ability to drive safely. This could be the driver’s fault or the trucking company’s fault, if they forced their driver to violate rules by threatening to withhold paychecks.
Truckers also face regulations dealing with the weight and loading of their trucks, as well as their personal health. It is illegal for a truck to weigh more than 80,000lbs in many instances. These trucks must also be evenly loaded and follow regulations for tie-downs and other organization to prevent dangerous cargo shift. Drivers must also pass health screenings to ensure they do not have dangerous conditions that could affect their driving. Examples may include diabetes, which could lead to passing out from blood sugar complications, or eyesight or hearing problems, which can affect your perception behind the wheel.
Regulations like these appear in other fields of transportation as well, and may help prove fault in train accident cases, and other traumatic accidents.
Paused or Cancelled Transportation Regulations in 2018
As of 2018, there are dozens of regulations that various agencies have been trying to pass, but the administration has blocked, cancelled, delayed, or paused. The trucking industry is also strongly against many of these regulations. While some companies already use things like speed limiters or GPS trackers for their trucks to ensure their truckers drive safely, others detest the cost of installing speed limiters and the restrictions they would cause.
Despite the obvious safety improvements, mandatory speed limiters are one of the regulations currently on hold by the US government. A truck driver from a devastating 2015 crash was recently convicted for the deaths in an accident which may have been prevented by speed limiters. In that case, 6 people were killed and 4 more were injured when a truck driving around 80mph crashed into stopped traffic. With a speed limiter that could stop trucks driving over 60mph, it is possible that the accident could have been avoided or the damage reduced.
Trump and the DOT’s general counsel have pointed to the uncertainty that these regulations would actually increase safety. They claim that the high cost of a new rule like this could cause more harm than good, and that it’s not clear that regulations would save lives. However, a 2-year old study from the DOT seems to indicate the opposite: saving more lives would actually have an economic benefit. Around 1,100 people die each year in truck accidents on roads with speed limits of 55mph or higher. If even 498 of these people could be saved, the DOT just 2 years ago said that would have a positive impact, economically.
Other regulations in the trucking industry and other transportation fields are also on hold. These include regulations that would:
- Ban workers with sleep apnea who have an increased risk of falling asleep on the job,
- Reduce the risk of fatigue in the railroad industry,
- Equip trains carrying crude oil with advance braking systems, and others.
Many of these regulations could save lives, but strong lobbying by the transportation industry and the expense of instituting many of these rules appear to be the primary reasons these regulations are stalled.
Philadelphia Truck Accident Victim Attorneys
If you or a loved one was the victim of a commercial truck accident, it is important to talk to an attorney about your case. Even without some of the regulations listed above, your attorney can use regulations and rules to help prove the truck driver and trucking company were responsible for the accident. For a free consultation on your case, contact the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm today. Our number is (215) 246-9000.