Commuters drive next to semi-trucks every day. Educate yourself about the laws that affect your morning and evening drive.
Each time a new presidential administration takes over, changes are likely to occur. And those federal changes can affect a number of industries. Lately, the American Trucking Association (ATA) has been concerned about the after-effects from the Obama administration’s efforts to tighten safety regulations for drowsy driving among commercial semi-truck drivers.
As with many things in Congress, disagreement occurred and the efforts were blocked by the majority party but that hasn’t stopped the ATA’s efforts to block state rules that would require truck drivers to take additional rest breaks. Specifically, truck drivers would be required to take two rest periods between 1 and 5 a.m. during their mandatory 35-hour-off time during the week, as well as a regulation that would have prevented truckers from driving 75 hours followed by a 35-hour break within the same week.
Following that Congressional lock on debate, many trucking safety experts are concerned about what new White House policies might mean for the trucking industry.
“Some truck drivers and others in the trucking industry believe that regulations should mostly be handled at the state level. However, many truck drivers cross state lines when they drive,” explained Eberstein Witherite Co-Founder and Principal Amy Witherite. “Furthermore, some carrier companies operate trucks in a variety of states, and a truck may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the company’s headquarters at the time of an accident. When each state has varying rules that govern how and when truckers can drive, confusion is bound to happen.”
There have also been disagreements at the federal and state levels regarding the regulation of autonomous trucks. For example, lawmakers in California would like to implement mandatory rules for driverless trucks. Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration only has voluntary guidelines.
According to the CBS News report, the ATA’s statements have prompted the chairperson of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to say “it’s going to be an open season on safety in this coming Congress.”
Trucking safety proponents also believe the ATA may pressure incoming lawmakers to increase weight limits for semi-trucks, making it legal for semis to weigh up to 90,000 pounds. Currently, the maximum weight allowed is 80,000 pounds. Safety experts also say the ATA and other industry lobbying groups may push for double trailer lengths to be extended to a maximum of 33 feet — five feet longer than current rules allow.
Whatever the results will be in Congress, as commuters driving next to these semi-trucks every day, you need to be aware and educate yourself about the laws that affect your morning and evening drive.
If you are ever in a truck wreck, Eberstein Witherite Lawyers are ready to serve you. Hopefully, you will avoid a truck wreck by staying educated about truck laws.