Records for 2013 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show 3,964 fatal semi-trailer accidents and 95,000 others which resulted to injuries. Despite this big number in injuries and fatalities, the government is cautious on subjecting trucking companies and truck operators to too many restrictions mainly because of the major contribution of trucks in the growth of the U.S. economy. In short, too many laws and restrictions on truck operations can cripple the country’s ability to do business.
The government may shy away from burdening truck operators with higher taxes or higher pay for drivers; however, it should never let its guard down against lobbyists who are seeking and fighting for reforms on laws that will directly affect the safe operation of big rigs, like, qualification of applicant drivers, number of hours or service, safety standard for truck parts, size limit of double trailers, and, maintenance of a record of regular truck inspection. This is because trucking companies’ lobbyists are proposing that:
- Trucks be allowed to haul loads heavier than the present federal limit, which is 80,000 pounds (this can be made possible if trucks can be allowed to have longer double trailers);
- Labor costs be reduced through the hiring of lower-paid drivers – those as young as 18; and,
- Working hours be extended from the already-exhausting 70-hour per week limit to 82 hours a week.
Since 2010, trucking companies and truck operators have been facing the problem of completing all job orders and making timely deliveries while experiencing shortage in the number of qualified drivers which, according to the American Trucking Association, is 48,000. Due to this shortage, a number of operators and employers have resorted to illegal means just to get and complete on time as many delivery requests as they can. Some of these illegalities include hiring of drivers despite their lack of the required skills, failing to further train drivers, failing to properly screen applicants for past records or driving violations, not suspending drivers who incur traffic violations, and requiring drivers to drive longer than the allowed number of service and then asking them to alter their log entry on the number of driving hours rendered.
If a truck driver commits an error while behind the wheel, the results can be catastrophic; but so too will the errors committed by trucking companies and employers. Trucking companies are legally responsible in making sure that laws regarding employee hiring and safe vehicle operation are strictly upheld, as this will greatly affect the well-being of everyone on the road. If and when trucking companies fail to uphold these standards, then they can be held financially responsible for their failure to act in accordance with the dictates of the law.read more