The Senate and House recently passed legislation that strengthens highway and trucking safety in the multi-billion dollar surface transportation authorization bill, called the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), H.R. 4348.
This is great news, and it should help prevent truck accidents in the future. I was past-president of the Truck Accident Lawyer Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice, and this important group was also able to review some of these new provisions in the bill and offer input. Many of the truck safety provisions could regulate a lot of the egregious behavior that both myself and other truck accident lawyers see with certain trucking companies who choose to sacrifice safety to increase their bottom line, and then underbid on price the good trucking companies and safe truck drivers by doing so.
Here’s a quick summary of the trucking safety provisions:
- A mandate for a requirement of Electronic On-board Recorders (EOBRs, also called black boxes) in all commercial vehicles;
- A 2-year study on the safety and infrastructure effects of truck size and weight;
- Provisions to address commercial driver safety: including driver medical qualifications, operator training, driver’s license program, driver’s requirements and driver information systems;
- Provisions to establish a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for commercial vehicle drivers;
- Provisions to strengthen motor carrier oversight and enforcement, particularly to prevent reincarnated carriers;
- Provisions addressing the financial responsibility of freight-forwarders and brokers by directing rules to establish minimum financial solvency and bonding requirements (insurance), and;
- Provisions to study the training of Hazmat operators and the handling and inspection of Hazmat materials, and increase penalties for Hazmat transportation violations.
The transportation bill will run through September 2014. These truck safety provisions were originally included in the Senate’s transportation reauthorization bill, MAP-21.
Overall, this is a big victory for truck safety and for preventing future truck crashes.
– Steven Gursten is past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Lawyer Litigation Group. He was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law for his work promoting national truck safety, and a Lawyer of the Year for a record truck accident injury settlement in Michigan.
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