Congress could be set to relax truck safety regulations

Rollback of truck driving limitations attached to government funding bill

The U.S. Congress could end up rolling back a number of regulations designed to reduce the number of truck accidents on the nation's roads and highways, according to Bloomberg. An amendment has been attached to an omnibus bill, designed to avert a government shutdown, which would ease a rule requiring truckers to take mandatory breaks each week. Safety advocates say the amendment is misguided and accuse the trucking industry of pushing to reduce safety standards.

Mandatory breaks

Under the current law, truck drivers are required to take breaks between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. on two consecutive nights. The measure, which went into force in 2013, is designed to combat truck driver fatigue. The proposed amendment, however, would get rid of that rule and would also eliminate another rule for limiting how often a truck driver can declare a new workday.

According to The Hill, the 70-hour work week regulation, which earlier seemed to be on the verge of being replaced by an 82-hour work week, will remain in place. However, the only restriction on that rule under the amendment is that drivers would have to take a 34-hour break once they had driven for 70 hours.

Rollback misguided

The U.S. Department of Transportation says that studies show that truck drivers who get two consecutive nights of rest perform much better on safety tests than drivers who only get one night of rest. The department is firmly against the proposed changes, saying they are misguided and have the potential to endanger other motorists on the road.

The rollbacks are particularly concerning given that fatal truck accidents actually increased between 2009 and 2012, which reversed a downward trend seen in the five years previous. The increased regulations that went into force in 2013 could have prevented approximately 1,400 truck accidents per year according to federal estimates, but those reductions may be jeopardized if safety regulations are relaxed.

Truck accidents

People involved in truck accidents, especially if they are driving a smaller vehicle that collides with a large semi or 18-wheeler, often suffer severe injuries and, in the most unfortunate cases, death. These large vehicles can leave a path of destruction if they are not driven safely and victims and their families are often left devastated.

Those victims, however, need not feel alone when trying to hold negligent truck drivers and their employers accountable. An experienced personal injury attorney can help such victims learn about the unique aspects involved in truck accident cases, including whether a claim can be made against any allegedly negligent party.