Chicago truck accident lawyers applaud the efforts of several groups and individuals, including Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and Dan England of the American Trucking Associations, to improve commercial vehicle safety for commercial and public drivers. According to TheTrucker.com, Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey is leading the way to reform the trucking industry. Due to the recent surge in bus accidents and truck-related highway fatalities, the senator reported to Trucker.com that he will introduce a bill that will be a part of a larger transportation reauthorization package currently being developed in the House and the Senate. According to the senator, his bill will give the government the tools to “kick unsafe drivers and carriers out of the industry.” The bill requires drivers have more training before receiving a license to drive a truck or bus. Furthermore, on the business’ end, trucking companies would be obligated to demonstrate that their drivers know the rules before driving. To aid and take better care of their drivers, companies would be required to monitor their drivers through electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs). EOBRs help to manage the amount of time drivers spend on duty to ensure that drivers are alert. The senator’s bill is expected to be heard on Thursday.
While the senator focuses on drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA) is advocating for more technical assistance. The FMCA employs only 1,100 individuals to oversee more than 500 thousand trucking companies and 5 million trucking drivers. The FCMA would like more focus on those carriers that are high risk for accidents. A carrier is considered high risk if it is one of the 10% that are involved in more than 40% of serious crashes. Although the agency has improved the industry through regulations since its start 11 years ago, statutory gaps still exist. Furthermore, commercial vehicle accidents cost the United States more than $60 million each year. Trucking accident lawsuits are on the rise including an Illinois multi-million dollar trucking accident settlement.
Although the senator and the FCMA are concerned with the current industry, Dan England of the American Trucking Association is worried about the future of the industry. England asks Congress to raise the standards for new companies to enter the industry. For example, he asks that the initial safety audit of new companies be completed within 6 months of starting operations, as opposed to the current 18 month standard. He also asks for more improvements in the Compliance Safety Accountability program created by the FCMA. England hopes that Congress will create a national system that would give employers timely notification of violations, accessible drug and alcohol test results, and other tools to improve highway safety.
Other voices in the industry are concerned with trucker safety issues such as the time drivers are detained loading docks, other motorists, and small business truck driver contracts. For example, on Monday a trucking accident crash was reported where a motorist crashed into a semi-truck when it failed to yield at an intersection.
Illinois trucking accident attorneys at Levin and Perconti understand the concerns of the senator, FCMA, and England for drivers, but are more focused on the individuals and families who have been hurt by trucking accidents, whether the victim is a commercial driver or a pedestrian. For those families, the loss of a loved one and the momentous medical bills from a sudden trauma and funeral bills are their immediate concerns. Attorneys can help families deal with these unexpected expenses.