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Obama, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration surrender to trucking industry – again

April 26, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan truck accident lawyer discusses how important safety data and truck accident prevention have been sacrificed under industry pressure

I was President of the Truck Accident Litigation Group for the American Association for Justice during the Bush Administration. Let’s just say, the results of all the lobbying and outreach I did on truck safety were regularly disappointing. The Bush Administration’s position was essentially to ignore safety, and the truck lobby had a consistent friend in the White House.

I (and the other truck accident lawyers at my firm) had big hopes for the Obama Administration, and things did begin with a promising start when the new administration took office. Since that time, however, I’ve watched as the Obama Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have surrendered on one consumer safety issue after another — under pressure from the trucking industry and the truck lobby.

Well, the trucking industry has scored again. But this time the effect is going to be weakened efforts to keep bad truck drivers and trucking companies that ignore mandatory public safety rules off the road. The latest disappointment for safety groups (and the truck accident lawyers who work with them) deals with the safety data available on trucking companies and drivers. The Obama Administration has weakened the safety data on unsafe trucking companies that is available for public review. Currently, deficient carriers are placed on an alert status. Under previous compromises, the FMCSA had already changed the color from red (as in warning and danger) to “amber” at the request of trucking industry. Well, the alert status has now been modified yet again, as shown in the press release below.

Finally, under the old system, safety alerts were saved as historical data. Now there’s no historical data reported and alerts are not placed in the historical information.

Disappointing, to say the least.

There is no explanation for this, other than caving in to lobbying pressure from the trucking industry. All this does is sacrifice public awareness and the safety of our families on the roads by putting them at risk for serious truck accidents. Meanwhile, unsafe motor carriers are being rewarded and trucking companies that do play by the rules are punished. In other words, the trucking companies that do it right are put at an economic disadvantage when bidding on jobs against unsafe trucking companies that take shortcuts on truck maintenance, safety, and driver hiring, training, and retention.

Here’s the press release from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that details the data changes: FMSCA reaches settlement agreement in on the Compliance Safety Accountability Program

Steven Gursten is a partner of Michigan Auto Law and one of the most renowned truck accident lawyers in the country. He is past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Litigation Group, and has received the top-reported trial verdict in Michigan for truck accidents. Steve was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law for his efforts in promoting national truck safety.

Related information:

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Michigan Auto Law – Top 2010 truck accident verdict

Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation from one of our truck accident lawyers.

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