Caving to pressure from the trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has eased up on some of the regulations relating to the issuance of Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs).
As a truck accident lawyer who litigates very serious truck accident cases mostly in Michigan but also in the last decade in other states around the country, I’ve seen the devastating consequences firsthand. The government began regulating safety with motor carriers because of the numbers of deaths and preventable crashes, and it remains the government’s responsibility to enact and enforce sensible rules to prevent truck accidents.
As of April 26, 2013, truck drivers with commercial drivers licenses no longer have to to report out-of-state traffic convictions to their home-state licensing agency.
This is because the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMSCA) eliminated the reporting regulation for interstate commercial truck and bus drivers and state licensing offices, stating that the reporting regulation had been made redundant by technological advances.
Wrong. I personally feel this is a terrible idea. In our world of state budget cuts, we – not just lawyers but law enforcement, safety directors and insurers – rely ever more on the ticketing state to report the offense to a driver’s home state and specifically the home state’s DMV.
The reason we have so many truck accidents in Michigan is a direct result of the numbers of unsafe truck drivers. And it is particularly sobering when one considers that these numbers likely represent only the tip of the iceberg.
Michigan is among the nation’s top 10 states with the highest percentage of trucking companies that have “unsafe driving alerts,” according to Amy Roach Partridge, Love it or Hate it, CSA is Here to Stay, InBound Logistics, September 2011.
I wanted to share this “Safety Management Cycle” chart today. It provides insight into how the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration investigates truck companies for safety.
Motor Carriers and truck drivers can also use it to evaluate current behavior and safety measures.
The Safety Management Cycle (SMC) is for the Unsafe Driving Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) of the FMCSA, and it helps trucking companies and drivers evaluate existing processes to determine where gaps may exist that either encourage unsafe driving behavior or leave this behavior unaddressed.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently waived the prohibition on deaf drivers operating commercial vehicles.
Specifically, the FMSCA waived the hearing impairment restriction for 40 of 45 applications, allowing hearing impaired drivers to operate commercial vehicles for the first time in four decades.
Under current Federal regulations, a truck driver must be able to hear a “forced whisper” from five feet away in order to obtain and maintain commercial driver’s license (CDL).
I recently came across this article in the Boston Globe all about bias against cyclists.
The Boston Globe article started by questioning whether a grand jury recently failed to serve an indictment against a driver suspected of vehicular homicide in the death of 41-year-old rider Alexander Motsenigos last summer.
According to the article:
“Many accidents involving bicycles and motor vehicles can be traced to road design, inclement weather, or attention lapse. But law enforcement traced Motsenigos’s death to truck driver Dana McCoomb, a man with an extensive history of driving infractions who fled the scene after striking the Wellesley cyclist from the side. Witness statements, video footage, and subsequent police analysis of the scene suggested that the deadly collision was more than an unavoidable accident.”
The Automobile Association of America (AAA) has come out against efforts to raise maximum size and weights on heavy commercial trucks.
This is important. AAA has nearly 50 million members, so when they speak up, folks tend to listen. I was past-president of the American Association for Justice truck accident lawyer litigation group during the Bush years, and worked with other truck attorneys from around the country to oppose weight increases. Now the issue has reappeared and AAA speaking out on this important safety issue that effects us all is important.
As a lawyer, I’ve seen first-hand what happens when truck drivers get too fatigued behind the wheel. And while the state of Michigan is more at risk to trucking accidents caused by tired truckers because lawyers have limited use of hours of service and log book violations, there is some good news to report. There is a new law that will truly help save lives by preventing truck accidents. “Jason’s Law” addresses a serious problem that affects drivers across the country: the lack of rest stations for commercial truck drivers.
I’ve written before about the national truck driver shortage. It’s part of a larger epidemic that I see as a truck accident lawyer, where companies who are in need of drivers lower standards or look the other way. They look to drivers who have caused too many crashes, violated too many traffic safety laws, are medically unqualified to drive, or who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
I recently was interviewed by WNEM TV News. I was asked as a 20 year truck accident attorney why there are so many injuries and fatalities caused by objects and debris, including tire fragments, falling off of big commercial trucks. The reporter, Cheri Hardmon, took closer look at why this is happening and the scary possibility of truck accidents due to cargo falling of trucks, or tires blowing and leaving dangerous debris in the roads.