The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced another extension to the trucking industry rule relaxations first introduced in March 2020. They will now apply until the end of November 2021.
Some in the industry feel this is good news, yet others do not. Standards serve a purpose. If a rule were unnecessary, the FMCSA would do away with it altogether, not keep agreeing to ignore it.
Why is the relaxing of trucking industry regulations a problem?
The announcement permits several things that reduce safety and increase the risk that truck drivers crash:
- Reducing driver hour relief: The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) was one of the groups that lobbied for the extension. They claim it will ensure stores always have beef on their shelves and plan to push for exemptions to become permanent. They argue that livestock haulers cannot stop when their drive time is up without “jeopardizing animal health and welfare.” Yet, there is ample evidence to show the dangers of driving without adequate rest. When someone driving a truck full of cattle falls asleep at the wheel, they can do catastrophic harm to other humans, let alone the animals they are transporting.
- Waiving medical tests and license renewals: Why does the FMCSA require truckers to undergo medical tests before getting or renewing a license? Because it is essential to safety. Having someone suffer a heart attack or epileptic attack at the wheel could be disastrous. Having someone who cannot see well take charge of a tractor-trailer is a liability. The FMCSA justifies its decision by saying the waits for medical checkups are too long. The solution is to address that issue, not tell drivers they can drive without being tested.
If a truck injures you, it is crucial to conduct a thorough investigation. You need to understand if the person driving was fit and rested enough to drive safely. If they were not, you might be able to take action against the trucking company and the driver.