New federal safety rules were passed this month, mandating more rest for truckers, closing some break loopholes, and ensuring that commercial truck drivers work shorter shifts. While some safety experts claim that the move may help prevent fatigue-related truck accidents in Homestead and across the country, some are claiming that the new safety rules may cause some problems.
According to some experts, the new rules will exacerbate a truck driver shortage and will reduce productivity, likely also increasing costs for businesses. Federal regulators claim that these problems will be balanced by improved safety on the roads and fewer accidents, but some in the truck industry say the rules may not necessarily improve safety.
The Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration predict that the new rules may help prevent 19 traffic deaths and 560 injuries as well as 1400 collisions. The agencies estimate that the rules will save $280 million in prevented collisions and $470 million in terms of better driver health.
The new rules reduce the number of weekly hours allowed for drivers from 82 down to 70. In addition, drivers will be required to take a 30 minute break after eight hours of driving and will need a 34-hour rest break weekly. This means that most truck companies will need to hire more drivers to maintain the same travel routes. With an already tight job market, this means that some truck carriers may scramble to fill those positions. This raises a basic question: what quality of drivers will be hired if there is already a shortage and truck carriers need to hire more?
Another problem will be productivity, which is estimated to decline about 3% as a result of the rules. The trucking industry is a $600 billion industry and the new rules are expected to increase costs for the industry by about $18 million. The Department of Transportation also estimates that hiring and training new drivers can also add about $320 million in costs. This means that truck companies may have less money to put towards maintenance and safety improvements.
While some experts question whether the new rules might not have a negative impact, others claim that the rules do not go far enough in preventing truck and car accidents in Homestead and other US cities. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in Washington argues that truck drivers should be given a continuous 48-hour rest break each week and should be limited to driving only 10 consecutive hours at a time.
Most experts agree that fatigued driving contributed to about 13% of traffic accidents in Homestead and across the country each year. However, there is some disagreement about how best to address the issue.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a truck collision, contact the Flaxman Law Group to review your situation with a personal injury attorney. The Flaxman Law Group is pleased to be part of the Homestead community and is proud to be able to offer a free, no obligation consultation to new clients.