In an effort to reduce truck crash fatalities on our nation’s roads, crash survivors and victims’ families traveled to Capitol Hill this week to share their concerns about trucking safety with the Senate Commerce Committee. Not coincidentally, the initiative occurred as the committee is preparing for the confirmation hearing of Raymond Martinez, whom President Trump has nominated to serve as administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—the federal agency that has the power to adopt trucking safety rules and regulations which could reduce the number of trucking accidents and deaths in the U.S.
According to the Truck Safety Coalition, an advocacy group responsible for the effort, the main goals of the group are to reduce the number of trucking accidents and deaths while providing support to truck crash survivors and their families.
The four major rules that the Truck Safety Coalition believes will improve truck safety, if adopted by the FMCSA, are:
- Require all truck, bus, and train drivers to be screened for sleep apnea
- Mandate speed limiters on all trucks
- Require trucks to have electronic logging devices
- Raise the minimum level of insurance required for trucks to be on the road
A previous effort to require testing for sleep apnea was abandoned by President Trump earlier this year. The group argues that such a condition can cause truck drivers to become drowsy and even fall asleep at the wheel, and testing is vital as sleep apnea has been directly linked to many deadly crashes across the country.
Electronic logging devices (ELDs) have also been in the news recently as the deadline looms for an ELD mandate at the end of this year. Supporters claim the devices can increase accountability for drivers and their companies while those in opposition argue that the cost of compliance could be too much for smaller transportation companies and independent drivers.
While Congress has an unclear record on implementing truck safety legislation (a topic covered in a previous blog on hours-of-service rules), there are definitely those who support such safety measures. “Addressing the dangers of fatigue among commercial truck drivers, including fighting for improvements to the hours-of-service rules and expanding testing for sleep apnea, has long been a priority of mine,” said Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ). Even Raymond Martinez has made comments in support of the FMCSA adapting to a changing industry. “FMCSA must ensure appropriate, balanced regulation and seamless integration of any new and developing technologies into the existing highway safety landscape without hindering innovation,” he said. Martinez is expected to be confirmed by the Senate early in November and would begin work in his new role shortly thereafter.