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New safety rules would make it easier to target unsafe carriers

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Federal regulators have proposed new safety rules that would make it easier to get unsafe trucks off the road.

As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently proposed new safety regulations that would make it easier to get unsafe trucking companies off the road faster. The proposed changes would allow the FMCSA to declare a carrier unsafe due to highway inspections alone as opposed to the current system that relies on lengthy audits. The change comes as concerns continue to grow about the impact deadly tractor trailer accidents are having on overall road safety in the United States.

Proposed changes

Under the current system federal regulators must conduct an audit of a trucking company’s records, including safety violations, before they can give that carrier a safety rating and, potentially, order that carrier’s vehicles off the road. Audits typically take several days to perform, however, meaning that investigators can only carry out so many audits each year. Currently, out of a total of 550,000 operating trucking companies, investigators have only been able to audit 15,000 carriers per year.

To address this problem, the FMCSA has proposed changing how carriers are deemed unsafe. Instead of going through a lengthy audit process, the changes would let federal officials rate carriers and order the potentially unsafe ones off the road through highway inspections alone. Currently, highway inspections can only be used to determine which carriers should be audited. The FMCSA estimates it will be able to rate 75,000 carriers per month by relying on highway inspections. The agency also notes that carriers that fail highway inspections are four times more likely to be involved in an accident than the national average.

How dangerous are trucks?

The proposed changes cannot come soon enough for some. As the New York Times reports, fatalities caused by truck accidents have been on an upward trend in recent years. Between 2009 and 2013, for example, deaths caused by truck accidents rose 13 percent nationwide at the same time that deaths caused by car accidents actually dropped three percent.

Furthermore, trucks and tractor trailers are far more likely than other vehicle types to be involved in a serious accident. Despite the fact that in 2013 heavy trucks accounted for less than 10 percent of miles traveled nationwide, they were involved in one-eighth of total fatal motor vehicle accidents. They were also involved in about 25 percent of fatal work zone traffic accidents.

Personal injury law

Tractor trailers are huge vehicles and being involved in a collision with one often leads to very serious injuries. Furthermore, trying to pursue compensation after a tractor trailer accident can be difficult due to the number of parties who may be held liable, including the truck driver, the truck’s owner, and other individuals and companies. A personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling truck accident cases can help victims make sense of what is otherwise an often very confusing and overwhelming situation. Such an attorney may be able to help truck accident victims pursue financial compensation that can be of invaluable help during their recovery process.

Victor Greco

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A Senior Trial Lawyer, and partner at O'Dwyer & Benstien Law Firm, Victor has won verdicts and settlements valued over millions of dollars on behalf of his personal injury clients.