Federal Government Refusing to Make Tractor Trailers Safer

In a time in which tractor trailers are creating 18-wheeled mayhem on South Carolina’s highways, the federal government apparently has been sitting on a proposal that would implement a common-sense rule to increase safety: requiring trucking companies to provide at-the-wheel training to all drivers. How long has the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration been sitting on this proposed rules change? Since 2006.

So for nearly eight years, the agency charged with implementing safety rules for the trucking industry has ensured that trucking companies can load up a truck to the point that it weighs 30 tons (60,000 pounds), and then put it out on the highway, driven by a person the company has never seen at the wheel. As lawyers who represent people maimed and killed in trucking accidents, this strikes us a very bad idea. Evidently Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari is okay with the seven year delay: he was at the meeting where action on the proposed rule was demanded this week.

To its credit, the drivers themselves agree with Traywick & Traywick. Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, told Mr. Porcari that “[s]hortcuts in training and experience lead to crashes. From our perspective these are the key elements in safety.” Responsible motor carriers within the industry also agree: the safety-conscious motor carriers all require legitimate road testing and other at-the-wheel experience before drivers are sent out onto the road with the awesome responsibility that comes with oeprating these incredibly dangerous vehicles. So the independent drivers want the rule. Industry actors obviously think it’s a good idea. The public certainly would, if they knew about these issues.

So who has been holding it up for seven years? The cynical part of us at TLO would speculate that industry lobbyists have held up adoption of the new rule. The even more deeply cynical part would speculate that the delay is merely par for the bureaucratic course for the federal government. Either way: the 18-wheeled mayhem on the roadways continues as the government drags its feet.

Traywick & Traywick’ partner Ben Traywick represented the transportation industry for six years before joining TLO and pursuing the rights of people injured in wrecks with tractor-trailers, log trucks, cement mixers, flatbeds and other commercial vehicles, and he knows the industry inside and out. He is available to speak with you, directly, at any time, for a free consultation. 843-810-3121.


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