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Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules fireworks more important than preventing truck accidents

July 21, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Truck accident lawyer comments on new hours-of-service exemption for tired truckers carrying fireworks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has decided to give nine trucking company members of the American Pyrotechnics Association exemption from its hours of service (HOS) regulations. This means that these trucking companies transporting fireworks are allowed to drive their trucks past the 14-hour time limit that other truckers must follow.

There are so many things wrong with this decision.

Our truck accident lawyers know with scientific certainty that truck driver fatigue causes more truck crashes. This applies to all drivers, of course, but there is a big difference between an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer truck and a 6,000 pound car. This is why commercial trucks require professional drivers, special tests and a license (the CDL). There are also certain hours of service requirements to drive these trucks, in order to avoid otherwise preventable truck accidents from occurring.

We also know that fatigue is one of the most significant factors responsible for a large number of the 5,000 Americans who are killed in truck accidents every year. And we know driver fatigue is responsible for the tens of thousands more who suffer serious personal injury in other trucking accident cases, such as my own client in Fairley v. Schiber Truck Co. in Jackson County, last December.

We know that truck drivers who continue to drive trucks over regulated hours, called “hours-of-service” rules, are less able to perceive and to react to road conditions. We know these delayed perception and reaction times cause precious seconds to pass before a fatigued driver can apply air brakes, or turn his wheel to avoid crashing into a pedestrian or car.

We know tired and fatigued drivers fall into “micro or mini-sleeps” when they literally are asleep at the wheel – the wheel of an 80,000 pound metal missile driving down our roads.

And we know that at the most basic level, a tired trucker makes bad decisions.

In fact, these tired and fatigued truck drivers pose such a danger to public safety that there is a specific federal safety regulation, FMCSR 392.3 Ill or fatigued driver, that specifically prohibits truckers from continuing to drive over the mandatory hours of service rules. Here’s a blog on how to nab the tired trucker in a deposition.

Well, not anymore. We can forget all that. Because it is apparently more important that we get our pyrotechnics and fireworks – made in China, of course – then it is to save lives and protect the public.

Why fireworks are more important than people’s lives

The FMCSA has announced its decision to grant the application for exemption from the American Pyrotechnics Association on behalf of nine member trucking companies seeking “relief” from the FMCSA’s hours-of-service (HOS) regulations, which prohibit truck drivers of commercial motor vehicles from continuing to drive after 14 hours. “Relief” is sadly, the word the organization chose to use that’s responsible for enforcing mandatory trucking safety standards.

The exemption for trucks carrying fireworks is effective during the periods of June 28, 2011, through July 8, 2011, and June 28, 2012, through July 8, 2012, inclusive.

Who knew the pyrotechnic industry wielded such power? Apparently, instead of just planning a little earlier so its trucks can deliver its fireworks and pyrotechnics on time, we are having large commercial trucks loaded with pyrotechnics now being driven on our roadways by tired and fatigued drivers who can now keep driving past the 14 hour hours of service rules!

Can’t wait to see what the toxic waste lobby petitions for…

Steven Gursten is a partner of Michigan Auto Law. He is past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Litigation Group, and has received the top-reported jury verdict in Michigan for truck accidents, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by bayasaa

Related information:

Michigan truck accident FAQs

What safety violation is the No. 1 truck accident predictor?

Truck drivers on drugs – and how to catch them

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 (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our truck accident lawyers.

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