As 2014 came to a close, big changes were announced that will take effect in 2015. Some of the most significant changes involve the trucking industry. Unfortunately for motorists, these changes could spell significant hazards when it comes to motorist safety. The following is a brief history of how these changes came to pass.
How Hours of Service Regulations Were Changed for 2015
Perhaps the most important changes that relate to trucking safety involve proposed revisions to the trucking industry’s hours of service regulations. These regulations impose limitations on the amount of hours that truckers can work without taking breaks for rest. The regulations are crucial to motorist safety because lack of rest has proven to be a significant factor in many dangerous, and sometimes lethal, accidents involving large trucks. So how did such important regulations come to face revision, which many safety advocates argue are for the worse, to the detriment of other motorists? Below is an overview:
During 2014, members of Congress battled over the proposed revisions to the hours of service regulations. These disputes had the effect of delaying of the passing of the budget for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Republicans argued that the current rules imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are too burdensome on trucking companies.
In June, a high-profile trucking accident involving a truck driver who allegedly had been awake for more than 24 hours made this issue more public. The accident involved popular comedian and actor Tracy Morgan, who was critically injured in an accident involving a large truck in New Jersey. As a result, a Senator from New Jersey introduced an amendment to the bill to reinforce the hours of service rules.
Unfortunately for safety advocates, Democrats were unable to gather the required 60 votes that they needed in order to pass their version of the transportation bill. At the same time, the Republicans were also unable to gain the necessary 60 votes to pass their own version.
Finally, the deadlock was broken when Congress failed to pass a budget for fiscal year 2015. Simultaneously, a debt ceiling reauthorization was coming due in December.
Republicans agreed to continue the resolution in order to allow the federal government to continue operating, as a shutdown would likely have occurred had they not done so. Unfortunately, in order to do so, Democrats had to agree to the unfavorable provision that impacts the hours of service regulations.
What happens now? Sadly for the rest of us who travel the roads, some trucking companies are now able to require that their drivers work longer hours without taking required breaks for adequate rest. Driver fatigue will likely increase as a result, making the roadways a more dangerous place for all.